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Understanding Taxpayer Behaviour – New Opportunities for Tax Administration


  • Keith Walsh

    (Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Dublin)


There is a growing literature on the contribution of behavioural economics to the design and improvement of tax policy. A less well-developed area is the potential for behavioural research to contribute to better tax administration. Better understanding of the motives of taxpayers and their attitudes and behaviour towards taxation can improve both voluntary compliance and the efficiency of the tax administration. The literature suggests tax compliance is determined by five broad factors: deterrence; norms (both personal and social); fairness and trust (in the tax administration); complexity of the tax system; and the role of government and the broader economic environment. Research in Ireland suggests that deterrence, the more traditional tool of tax administrations, is important but not sufficient to explain the level of tax compliance in society. Other factors are shown to be important, particularly the influence of personal norms and the level of trust in the tax administration. Perceptions of the prevailing social norms are also important determinants of compliance but appear to exert less influence on taxpayers than personal norms. The experiences of tax administrations in using behavioural research to influence taxpayers are examined and work in this area in Ireland is outlined.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith Walsh, 2012. "Understanding Taxpayer Behaviour – New Opportunities for Tax Administration," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 451-475.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:43:y:2012:i:3:p:451-475

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    Cited by:

    1. Iyere Oghuma, Richard, 2018. "Tax Audit, Penalty And Tax Compliance In Nigeria," International Journal of Accounting and Finance (IJAF), The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), vol. 7(2), pages 74-86, December.
    2. Jonathan Farrar & Steven E. Kaplan & Linda Thorne, 2019. "The Effect of Interactional Fairness and Detection on Taxpayers’ Compliance Intentions," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 154(1), pages 167-180, January.
    3. Călin Vâlsan & Elena Druică & Rodica Ianole-Călin, 2020. "State Capacity and Tolerance towards Tax Evasion: First Evidence from Romania," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(2), pages 1-17, June.
    4. Nivakan Sritharan & Sahari Salawati, 2019. "Economic Factors Impact on Individual Taxpayers’ Tax Compliance Behaviour in Malaysia," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 9(2), pages 172-182, April.
    5. Yi-Chung Hsu & Chien-Chiang Lee, 2016. "Factors Affecting Tax Evasion: Do Interest Rate And Regional Effects Matter?," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(04), pages 1-23, September.
    6. Samia Tarannum Chowdhury, 2015. "Is Bangladeshi Professionals¡¯ Tax-Paying Behavior in Convergence with the Principles of Taxation?," Research in World Economy, Research in World Economy, Sciedu Press, vol. 6(3), pages 55-63, September.

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