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A Field Experiment in Moral Suasion and Tax Compliance Focusing on Underdeclaration and Overdeduction

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  • Benno Torgler

Abstract

One of very few field experiments in tax compliance, this study generates a unique data set on Swiss taxpayers' underdeclaration of income and wealth and overdeduction of tax credits by obtaining exclusive access to tax-return corrections made by the tax administration. Using this commune-level data from Switzerland, it explores the influence on tax compliance of moral suasion, introduced through a treatment in which taxpayers receive a letter containing normative appeals signed by the commune's fiscal commissioner. This letter also serves to operationalize elements of social identity and (mutual) trust. Interestingly, the results not only echo the earlier finding that moral suasion has barely any effect on taxpayer compliance, but show clear differences between underdeclaration and overdeduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Benno Torgler, 2013. "A Field Experiment in Moral Suasion and Tax Compliance Focusing on Underdeclaration and Overdeduction," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(4), pages 393-411, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(201312)69:4_393:afeims_2.0.tx_2-t
    DOI: 10.1628/001522108X675647
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Kirchler,Erich, 2007. "The Economic Psychology of Tax Behaviour," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521876742, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Castro, Lucio & Scartascini, Carlos, 2015. "Tax compliance and enforcement in the pampas evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 65-82.
    2. repec:eee:soceco:v:70:y:2017:i:c:p:10-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fochmann, Martin & Wolf, Nadja, 2015. "Mental accounting in tax evasion decisions: An experiment on underreporting and overdeducting," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 186, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    4. 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.
    5. Koessler, Ann-Kathrin & Torgler, Benno & Feld, Lars P. & Frey, Bruno S., 2018. "Commitment to pay taxes: Results from field and laboratory experiments," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 18/06, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    6. Daniel Ortega & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Don't Blame the Messenger: A Field Experiment on Delivery Methods for Increasing Tax Compliance," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 91741, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Daniel Ortega & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Don't Blame the Messenger: A Field Experiment on Delivery Methods for Increasing Tax Compliance," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7284, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax compliance; moral suasion; social identity; (mutual) trust; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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