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Old George Orwell Got It Backward: Some Thoughts on Behavioral Tax Economics

  • Joel Slemrod

It is entirely appropriate that the study of public finance take seriously 'behavioral' inconsistencies with traditional models of individual and collective decision-making. This raises the question of whether the state should play a role in protecting individuals from themselves, and whether individuals are susceptible to manipulation, or even exploitation, by the people who comprise the state. In this essay I two aspects of this issue - tax complexity and tax compliance. In addressing these issues I ask, and offer some tentative answers to, what is distinctive about behavioral tax economics as a sub-field of behavioral economics and as a sub-field of tax economics.

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Article provided by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen in its journal FinanzArchiv.

Volume (Year): 66 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 15-33

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Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(201003)66:1_15:ogogib_2.0.tx_2-h
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  1. Kai Konrad, 2008. "Mobile tax base as a global common," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 395-414, August.
  2. Looney, Adam & Kroft, Kory & Chetty, Raj, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," Scholarly Articles 9748525, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Tomer Blumkin & Bradley J. Ruffle & Yosef Ganun, 2008. "Are Income and Consumption Taxes ever really Equivalent? Evidence from a Real-Effort Experiment with Real Goods," CESifo Working Paper Series 2194, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles W. & Slemrod, Joel, 2001. "Do Normative Appeals Affect Tax Compliance? Evidence from a Controlled Experiment in Minnesota," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 125-38, March.
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  9. McCaffery, Edward J. & Baron, Jonathan, 2003. "The Humpty Dumpty blues: Disaggregation bias in the evaluation of tax systems," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 230-242, July.
  10. Slemrod, Joel, 2006. "The Role of Misconceptions in Support for Regressive Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(1), pages 57-75, March.
  11. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ZTAX: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010, August.
  13. 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.
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  16. Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," CEPR Discussion Papers 7215, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Charles Christian & Joel Slemrod & Marsha Blumenthal, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: Evidence from a controlled experiment in minnesota," Natural Field Experiments 00332, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Carlin, Bruce I., 2009. "Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 278-287, March.
  19. Slemrod, Joel, 2008. "Does It Matter Who Writes the Check to the Government? The Economics of Tax Remittance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(2), pages 251-75, June.
  20. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  24. Luke Garrod, 2008. "Price Transparency and Consumer Naivety in a Competitive Market," Working Papers 07-10, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
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  26. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
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  30. Frey, Bruno S, 1997. "A Constitution for Knaves Crowds Out Civic Virtues," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1043-53, July.
  31. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521876742 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
  33. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael J., 1992. "Estimating the Determinants of Taxpayer Compliance with Experimental Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(1), pages 107-14, March.
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