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Perceptions and outcomes of a fiscal bonus: Framing effects on evaluations and usage intentions


  • Lozza, Edoardo
  • Carrera, Sonia
  • Bosio, A. Claudio


Is presenting a fiscal bonus as an income increase (a gain) the same as presenting it as a tax rebate (a loss reduction)? This paper aims to answer this question with two studies. Study 1 is a survey carried out in Italy to explore citizens' perceptions of a fiscal reform introduced in 2005. It shows both effects imputable to the methods used to describe the bonus and differences between respondents belonging to different occupational groups. But it does not allow disentangling these factors. Study 2 aims to investigate whether and how (1) the frame used to describe a fiscal bonus and (2) taxpayers' occupational status, influence their evaluation of this tax reduction and the uses they intend to make of it. To this end, 252 participants belonging to different occupational groups were submitted to two between-subject framing conditions (the bonus being described as a reduced loss or as a gain). They were then asked to evaluate the bonus' importance for their personal wealth and to state how they intended to use it. Results demonstrate that the frame, rather than the occupational status of the respondent, influences taxpayers' responses to the bonus. Respondents attached a higher importance to the bonus and were keener to save it when it was described as a loss reduction, compared to it being presented as a gain. These results are interpreted with reference to Prospect Theory, producing new insights into the processes through which framing can affect fiscal policy evaluations. The study is also relevant from a pragmatic perspective, as it shows that the way fiscal policy is communicated can be decisive for the achievement of economic and political goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Lozza, Edoardo & Carrera, Sonia & Bosio, A. Claudio, 2010. "Perceptions and outcomes of a fiscal bonus: Framing effects on evaluations and usage intentions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 400-404, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:400-404

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    2. Ashby, Julie S. & Webley, Paul & Haslam, Alexander S., 2009. "The role of occupational taxpaying cultures in taxpaying behaviour and attitudes," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 216-227, April.
    3. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 381-396, March.
    4. Epley, Nicholas & Gneezy, Ayelet, 2007. "The framing of financial windfalls and implications for public policy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 36-47, February.
    5. Chang, Otto H. & Nichols, Donald R. & Schultz, Joseph J., 1987. "Taxpayer attitudes toward tax audit risk," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 299-309, September.
    6. Robben, Henry S. J. & Webley, Paul & Weigel, Russell H. & Warneryd, Karl-Erik & Kinsey, Karyl A. & Hessing, Dick J. & Martin, Francisco Alvira & Elffers, Henk & Wahlund, Richard & Van Langenhove, Luk, 1990. "Decision frame and opportunity as determinants of tax cheating : An international experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 341-364, September.
    7. Kirchler, Erich & Maciejovsky, Boris, 2001. "Tax compliance within the context of gain and loss situations, expected and current asset position, and profession," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 173-194, April.
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    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:295-305 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cullis, John & Jones, Philip & Lewis, Alan & Castiglioni, Cinzia & Lozza, Edoardo, 2015. "Do poachers make harsh gamekeepers? Attitudes to tax evasion and to benefit fraud," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 124-131.
    3. Blaufus, Kay & Möhlmann, Axel, 2012. "Security returns and tax aversion bias: Behavioral responses to tax labels," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 133, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    4. Blaufus, Kay & Hechtner, Frank & Möhlmann, Axel, 2014. "The effect of tax preparation expenses for employees: Evidence from Germany," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 157, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    5. Iannario, Maria & Manisera, Marica & Zuccolotto, Paola, 2015. "The treatment of don't know responses in the consumers' perceptions: a survey in the agri-food sector," 143rd Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, March 25-27, 2015, Naples, Italy 202704, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Maria Iannario & Marica Manisera & Paola Zuccolotto, 2017. "Treatment of “don’t know” responses in the consumers’ perceptions about sustainability in the agri-food sector," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 765-778, March.
    7. John Yinger & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2015. "The Behavioral Impacts of Poverty Tax Relief: Salience or Framing?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 186, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    8. Renz, André, 2016. "Die Relevanz von Replikationen in der experimentellen Steuerforschung: Eine Replikationsstudie zu Wahrnehmungsverzerrungen bei Subventionen," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 202, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.

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