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Happiness and tax morale: An empirical analysis

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  • Lubian, Diego
  • Zarri, Luca

Abstract

This paper presents empirical evidence that “tax morale” – taxpayers’ intrinsic motivation to pay taxes – constitutes a new determinant of happiness, even after controlling for several demographic and socioeconomic factors. Using data on Italian households for 2004, we assess the strength of tax morale by relying on single items as well as composite multi-item indices. Our main result that fiscal honesty generates a higher hedonic payoff than cheating is in line with Harbaugh et al. (2007)’s neuroeconomic finding. Further, it sheds light on the well-known “puzzle of compliance”, that is the fact that many individuals pay taxes even when expected penalty and audit probability are extremely low: tax compliance is less puzzling once we show that not only it is materially costly, but also provides sizeable non-pecuniary benefits that make it rewarding in itself.

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  • Lubian, Diego & Zarri, Luca, 2011. "Happiness and tax morale: An empirical analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 223-243.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:80:y:2011:i:1:p:223-243
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.03.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Schlüter, Achim & Vollan, Björn, 2015. "Flowers and an honour box: Evidence on framing effects," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 186-199.
    2. Filippin, Antonio & Fiorio, Carlo V. & Viviano, Eliana, 2013. "The effect of tax enforcement on tax morale," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 320-331.
    3. Brizi, Ambra & Giacomantonio, Mauro & Schumpe, Birga M. & Mannetti, Lucia, 2015. "Intention to pay taxes or to avoid them: The impact of social value orientation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 22-31.
    4. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2012. "Happy Taxpayers? Income Taxation and Well-Being," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 526, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Duncan, Denvil & Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas, 2012. "Nice Guys Finish Last: Are People with Higher Tax Morale Taxed More Heavily?," IZA Discussion Papers 6275, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Luis Augusto Chávez Maza & Alexander Elbittar & Fausto Hernández Trillo, 2015. "Cumplimiento en pago de contribuciones: autoridades fiscales versus religiosas en México," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 30(1), pages 51-74.
    7. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.
    8. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Gërxhani, Klarita, 2016. "Tax evasion and well-being: A study of the social and institutional context in Central and Eastern Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 149-159.
    9. Philipp Doerrenberg & Denvil Duncan & Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2014. "Nice Guys Finish Last: Do Honest Taxpayers Face Higher Tax Rates?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 29-53, February.
    10. I Made Sudarma, 2017. "Does Voluntary Tax Compliance Increase After Granting Tax Amnesty?," GATR Journals afr138, Global Academy of Training and Research (GATR) Enterprise.
    11. Fabio Lamantia & Mario Pezzino & Fabio Tramontana, 2017. "Tax evasion, intrinsic motivation, and the evolutionary effects of tax reforms," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1707, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    12. Antoci, Angelo & Russu, Paolo & Zarri, Luca, 2014. "Tax evasion in a behaviorally heterogeneous society: An evolutionary analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-115.
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    14. repec:eee:soceco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:62-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Alessandro Bucciol & Luca Zarri, 2017. "The Lasting Legacy of Traumatic Events on Life Satisfaction," Working Papers 13/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    16. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M. & Ifcher, John & Zarghamee, Homa, 2016. "The earned income tax credit, mental health, and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 18-38.
    17. Cãtãlina Cozmei, 2012. "Playing The Fiscal Lottery Game," Proceedings of the INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 6(1), pages 511-521, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Tax morale; Tax compliance;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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