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Tax Evasion and Equity Theory: An Investigative Approach

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  • Sharmila King

    ()

  • Steven Sheffrin

    ()

Abstract

Traditional economic theory assumes rational individuals with stable preferences who, given an array of options and probabilities, maximize their expected utility. However, experimental research finds that individuals make systematic “mistakes” when attempting to maximize their expected utility. The economic psychology approach includes aspects of the traditional economic approach and the psychological approach that emphasizes values, attitudes, norms, conformity and morals. This paper investigates equity theory and tax evasion using the framework of prospect theory pioneered by Tversky and Kahneman. We design an investigation to identify if individual behavior follows the usual results of prospect theory, given a scenario that frames a perception of inequity. The investigation frames a scenario to invoke a controlled tax regime. The frame varies according to which inequity is being measured, exchange or social. Once the scenario is established, a questionnaire is designed to determine how the individual responds when filing taxes. The responses to the control questions are consistent with prospect theory. However, in general the responses to the framed questions, depicting inequity, are more consistent with expected utility theory. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Suggested Citation

  • Sharmila King & Steven Sheffrin, 2002. "Tax Evasion and Equity Theory: An Investigative Approach," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 9(4), pages 505-521, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:9:y:2002:i:4:p:505-521
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1016528406214
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    2. Elffers, Henk & Hessing, Dick J., 1997. "Influencing the prospects of tax evasion," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 289-304, April.
    3. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151-151.
    4. Cowell, F. A., 1992. "Tax evasion and inequity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 521-543, December.
    5. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    7. Wallschutzky, I. G., 1984. "Possible causes of tax evasion," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 371-384, December.
    8. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-171.
    9. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty R. & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Fiscal exchange, collective decision institutions, and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 285-303, December.
    10. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
    11. Vito Tanzi & Parthasarathi Shome, 1993. "A Primeron Tax Evasion," IMF Working Papers 93/21, International Monetary Fund.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:151:y:2017:i:c:p:110-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Massimo Finocchiaro Castro & Ilde Rizzo, 2014. "Tax compliance under horizontal and vertical equity conditions: An experimental approach," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(4), pages 560-577, August.
    3. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2007. "Tax evasion and social interactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2089-2112, December.
    4. Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Antoine Malézieux & Jason F. Shogren, 2017. "L’évasion fiscale est-elle un trait de personnalité ?. Une évaluation empirique des déterminants psychologiques de la « morale fiscale »," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 68(5), pages 809-828.
    5. Langenmayr, Dominika, 2017. "Voluntary disclosure of evaded taxes — Increasing revenue, or increasing incentives to evade?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 110-125.
    6. Tan, Fangfang & Yim, Andrew, 2010. "Deterrence Effects of Auditing Rules: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 27859, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Frank A Cowell, 2003. "Sticks and Carrots," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 68, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

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