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Honesty and Evasion in the Tax Compliance Game

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  • Brian Erard
  • Jonathan S. Feinstein

Abstract

Conventional models of tax compliance emphasize that taxpayers make strategic tax reports, underreporting income to the extent that this behavior is functionally rewarded. In contrast to this view, considerable empirical evidence suggests that many taxpayers are inherently honest, reporting truthfully regardless of the incentive to cheat. In this article we build a game-theoretic model of tax compliance that includes both honest and potentially dishonest taxpayers. We show that including honest taxpayers significantly alters the model, leading to much improved empirical predictions and somewhat different and novel policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Erard & Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1994. "Honesty and Evasion in the Tax Compliance Game," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 1-19, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:25:y:1994:i:spring:p:1-19
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