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Analyzing the Role of Social Norms in Tax Compliance Behavior

  • Donna Bobek

    ()

  • Amy Hageman

    ()

  • Charles Kelliher

    ()

Registered author(s):

    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

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-012-1390-7
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

    Volume (Year): 115 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (July)
    Pages: 451-468

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:115:y:2013:i:3:p:451-468
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100281

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    1. Donna Bobek & Robin Roberts & John Sweeney, 2007. "The Social Norms of Tax Compliance: Evidence from Australia, Singapore, and the United States," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 49-64, August.
    2. Webley, Paul & Cole, Michaela & Eidjar, Ole-Petter, 2001. "The prediction of self-reported and hypothetical tax-evasion: Evidence from England, France and Norway," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 141-155, April.
    3. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Do Ethics Matter? Tax Compliance and Morality," Working Papers 1207, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:att:wimass:9610 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Korobow, Adam & Johnson, Chris & Axtell, Robert, 2007. "An Agent–Based Model of Tax Compliance with Social Networks," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(3), pages 589-610, September.
    6. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    7. Benno Torgler, 2004. "Moral Suasion: An alternative tax policy strategy? Evidence from a controlled field experiment in Switzerland," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-01, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-83, December.
    9. James Alm & Michael McKee, 1998. "Extending the lessons of laboratory experiments on tax compliance to managerial and decision economics," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 259-275.
    10. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x, June.
    11. 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 141-71.
    12. Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, 03.
    13. Reckers, Philip M.J. & Sanders, Debra L. & Roark, Stephen J., 1994. "The Influence of Ethical Attitudes on Taxpayer Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(4), pages 825-36, December.
    14. Wenzel, Michael, 2005. "Motivation or rationalisation? Causal relations between ethics, norms and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 491-508, August.
    15. Wenzel, Michael, 2004. "An analysis of norm processes in tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-228, April.
    16. Blanthorne, Cindy & Kaplan, Steven, 2008. "An egocentric model of the relations among the opportunity to underreport, social norms, ethical beliefs, and underreporting behavior," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 684-703.
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