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Analyzing the Role of Social Norms in Tax Compliance Behavior

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  • Donna Bobek

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  • Amy Hageman

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  • Charles Kelliher

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore with more rigor and detail the role of social norms in tax compliance. This study draws on Cialdini and Trost’s (The Handbook of Social Psychology: Oxford University Press, Boston, MA, 1998 ) taxonomy of social norms to investigate with more specificity this potentially decisive (Alm and McKee, Managerial and Decision Economics, 19:259–275, 1998 ) influence on tax compliance. We test our research hypotheses regarding the direct and indirect influences of social norms using a hypothetical compliance scenario with 174 experienced taxpayers as participants. Factor analysis of the social norm questions successfully identified four distinct social norm constructs, in line with Cialdini and Trost ( 1998 ). Results of the path analysis show that individuals’ standards for behavior/ethical beliefs (personal norms) as well as the expectations of close others (subjective norms) directly influence tax compliance decisions, whereas general societal expectations (injunctive norms) and other individuals’ actual behavior (descriptive norms) have an indirect influence. This shows that social norms have important direct as well as indirect influences on tax compliance behavior. We also investigate a number of attitudinal variables that may be related to social norms and taxpayer compliance. The results of this study further clarify the important role that social norms have with regard to taxpayers’ compliance behavior. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Donna Bobek & Amy Hageman & Charles Kelliher, 2013. "Analyzing the Role of Social Norms in Tax Compliance Behavior," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 451-468, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:115:y:2013:i:3:p:451-468
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1390-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hallsworth, Michael & List, John A. & Metcalfe, Robert D. & Vlaev, Ivo, 2017. "The behavioralist as tax collector: Using natural field experiments to enhance tax compliance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 14-31.
    2. Abraham, Martin & Lorek, Kerstin & Richter, Friedemann & Wrede, Matthias, 2014. "Strictness of tax compliance norms: A factorial survey on the acceptance of inheritance tax evasion in Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 07/2014, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    3. Barbara Culiberg & Domen Bajde, 2014. "Do You Need a Receipt? Exploring Consumer Participation in Consumption Tax Evasion as an Ethical Dilemma," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 124(2), pages 271-282, October.
    4. Jeffrey Cohen & Gil Manzon & Valentina Zamora, 2015. "Contextual and Individual Dimensions of Taxpayer Decision Making," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 126(4), pages 631-647, February.
    5. COMANICIU Carmen, 2015. "Some Coordinates Regarding The Romanian Taxpayers Behavior," Revista Economica, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Economic Sciences, vol. 67(1), pages 32-44, February.
    6. Biddle, Nicholas & Fels, Katja & Sinning, Mathias, 2017. "Behavioral insights and business taxation: Evidence from two randomized controlled trials," Ruhr Economic Papers 698, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Antonetti, Paolo & Anesa, Mattia, 2017. "Consumer reactions to corporate tax strategies: The role of political ideology," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 1-10.

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    Keywords

    Tax compliance; Taxpayers; Social norms;

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