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Russian attitudes toward paying taxes – before, during, and after the transition

  • James Alm
  • Jorge Martinez-Vazque
  • Benno Torgler

Purpose – This paper examines citizens' attitudes toward paying taxes – what is sometimes termed their “tax morale” or the intrinsic motivation to pay taxes – focusing on the experience of individuals in the Russian Federation before, during, and after the transition from a planned socialist economy to a market-based economy. Design/methodology/approach – Micro-level data for Russia from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey for the years 1991, 1995, and 1999 are used to estimate the determinants of individuals' attitudes toward paying taxes. The data also allow the examination of the evolution of tax morale in the regions of Russia. Findings – The estimation results show decay in tax morale in the first four years of the transition, and a small recovery in 1999. Significant regional differences in tax morale are also found. Research limitations/implications – The results are consistent with the relevance of social norms in tax compliance, where the widespread perception of tax evasion and of a corrupt and inefficient state led initially to a decline of tax morale. The results also indicate that the restoration of a higher level of trust in the state, after some progress in the transition to a market economy, positively influenced tax morale. Practical implications – The results suggest, once tax morale is crowded out, it is difficult for government to raise tax morale very quickly back to previous levels. Doing so requires designing tax systems, tax administrations, and government structures that inspire trust and pride in governmental and legal institutions. Originality/value – A unique aspect of the analysis is the ability to study tax morale at the individual level before (1991), during (1995), and shortly after (1999) the Russian transition.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 33 (2006)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Pages: 832-857

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:33:y:2006:i:12:p:832-857
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