Individual, cognitive and cultural differences in tax compliance: UK and Italy compared
Five hundred and five Italian psychology and economics students took part in a tax compliance study testing the influence of detection rates (within subjects) and the between subjects variables of framing effects, instructions to behave instrumentally or not, degree choice and gender. The sample was an improvement on a previous study conducted in the UK where the effects of gender and degree choice were entangled. The results from the Italian sample showed highly significant effects for detection rates, framing effects, gender and degree choice. Participants declared more as detection rates rose and when tax was framed as a gain. Males and economists declared the least. The instruction to maximise income (instrumentality) encouraged psychologists to declare less, while economists behaved instrumentally whether they were asked to or not. The influence of culture was examined by comparing the two data sets. Although the tax systems of these two countries are very similar, tax evasion is much more common in Italy. As anticipated Italian students declared less than UK students and the results for the Italian sample were more pronounced (e.g. the significant framing effect) but otherwise all are in the same direction. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed as the prospects for future empirical studies.
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