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Do your tax problems make tax evasion seem more justifiable? Evidence from a survey experiment

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  • Blesse, Sebastian

Abstract

Taxpayers often view tax rules and filing processes as complicated. I study whether the perceived tax uncertainty among peers makes tax evasion more acceptable among the general public. I find strong supportive evidence for this hypothesis using a survey experiment and a large representative sample of the German population. Providing randomized information that others are uncertain about how to file their taxable income decreases individual support for tax compliance. This suggests that subjects judge tax evasion less harshly in response to this peer information. Studying related heterogeneous treatment effects, I find that both older and left-wing subjects are more responsive to tax uncertainty of others. Less harsh views on evasion are persistent for very high compliance levels in a follow-up survey.

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  • Blesse, Sebastian, 2023. "Do your tax problems make tax evasion seem more justifiable? Evidence from a survey experiment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:78:y:2023:i:c:s0176268023000095
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2023.102365
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax complexity; Support for tax compliance; Survey experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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