IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Understanding Surveys of Taxpayer Honesty


  • Janine L. F. Wilson
  • Steven Sheffrin


Standard models of taxpayer compliance have fallen short of predicting the degree of honesty found in the data. We contribute to the more recent literature assessing cultural factors in the decision to underreport. We find that there are two forms of possible misspecification in the current models of taxpayer compliance. First, we use econometric methods for detecting misclassification of the dependent variable in a probit model, applying them to a recent IRS-sponsored survey. We find evidence of misspecification, which may suggest that taxpayers are not fully truthful in their survey responses, a result that helps to reconcile findings from survey data with studies using other methods. Second, we divide the sample into those individuals who have an intense sense of "tax morality" and those who do not, in order to compare groups with differing tax cultures. We find that the two groups are indeed influenced differently by the factors that have been commonly found in the literature, such as opinions regarding the fairness of the tax system.

Suggested Citation

  • Janine L. F. Wilson & Steven Sheffrin, 2005. "Understanding Surveys of Taxpayer Honesty," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 61(2), pages 256-256, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(200507)61:2_256:usoth_2.0.tx_2-_

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ray Barrell & Ian Hurst & Álvaro Pina, 2002. "Fiscal Targets, Automatic Stabilisers and their Effects on Output," Working Papers Department of Economics 2002/05, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    2. Canova, Fabio, 1998. "Detrending and business cycle facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 475-512, May.
    3. Michael Artis & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2001. "Fiscal forecasting: The track record of the IMF, OECD and EC," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 4(1), pages 20-36.
    4. Bohn, Henning, 1990. "Tax Smoothing with Financial Instruments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1217-1230, December.
    5. Missale, Alessandro, 1999. "Public Debt Management," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290858, June.
    6. Buti, Marco & Franco, Daniele & Ongena, Hedwig, 1998. "Fiscal Discipline and Flexibility in EMU: The Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 81-97, Autumn.
    7. Marco BUTI & Daniele FRANCO & Hedwig ONGENA, 1997. "Budgeetary Policies during Recessions : Retrospective Application of the Stability and Growth Pact” to the Post-War Period," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1997041, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    8. Thomas Dalsgaard & Alain de Serres, 1999. "Estimating Prudent Budgetary Margins for 11 EU Countries: A Simulated SVAR Model Approach," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 216, OECD Publishing.
    9. Bouthevillain, C. & Van Den Dool, G. & Langenus, G. & Mohr, M. & Momigliano, S. & Tujula, M. & De Cos, P.H. & Cour-Thimann, Philippine, 2001. "Cyclically Adjusted Budget Balances: an Alternative Approach," Papers 77, Quebec a Montreal - Recherche en gestion.
    10. Marín, José M., 2002. "Sustainability of public finances and automatic stabilisation under a rule of budgetary discipline," Working Paper Series 0193, European Central Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kirchler, Erich & Wahl, Ingrid, 2010. "Tax compliance inventory TAX-I: Designing an inventory for surveys of tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 331-346, June.
    2. Juan Molero & Francesc Pujol, 2012. "Walking Inside the Potential Tax Evader’s Mind: Tax Morale Does Matter," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 105(2), pages 151-162, January.
    3. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.
    4. Kastlunger, Barbara & Dressler, Stefan G. & Kirchler, Erich & Mittone, Luigi & Voracek, Martin, 2010. "Sex differences in tax compliance: Differentiating between demographic sex, gender-role orientation, and prenatal masculinization (2D:4D)," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 542-552, August.
    5. Durham, Yvonne & Manly, Tracy S. & Ritsema, Christina, 2014. "The effects of income source, context, and income level on tax compliance decisions in a dynamic experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 220-233.

    More about this item


    tax compliance; misspecification of dependent variable;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(200507)61:2_256:usoth_2.0.tx_2-_. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Wolpert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.