Compliance costs caused by agency action? Empirical evidence and implications for tax compliance
Compliance costs of taxpayers should not only be affected by the tax law itself but also by its implementation through the tax authorities. In this paper we analyze the effect of authority behavior on the burden of complying with tax regulations. Using survey data of Belgian businesses, we develop an estimation strategy to overcome simultaneity bias by the construction of proxy variables. According to our estimate, a customer-unfriendly tax administration increases the average compliance burden by about 27%. Our outcome has interesting implications for further research. First of all, authority behavior does not only affect “soft” tax compliance factors like fairness and trust, but also “hard” aspects like costs. Second, the distribution of administrative cost burdens between the taxpayer side and the authorities may be important regarding the cost-efficiency of the tax system as a whole.
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