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Tax Compliance as a Social Norm and the Deterrent Effect of Investigations

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  • Marisa Ratto
  • Richard Thomas
  • David Ulph

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Abstract

In this paper we focus on the effects of investigations on tax compliance. In a very general model we explain the direct and indirect effects of investigations and analyse taxpayers’ response to an increase in the probability of audit when tax compliance is a social norm. We define the different elements that determine the impact of audits on compliance and show that if tax compliance is a social norm in the relevant community there is an additional effect arising because of social norm considerations. The behavioural response of taxpayers to an increase in the audit rate is stronger. Our Findings help explain seemingly contradictory results that emerge from the empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Marisa Ratto & Richard Thomas & David Ulph, 2005. "Tax Compliance as a Social Norm and the Deterrent Effect of Investigations," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 05/127, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:05/127
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    File URL: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/workingpapers/wp127.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kirchler, Erich & Maciejovsky, Boris & Schneider, Friedrich, 2003. "Everyday representations of tax avoidance, tax evasion, and tax flight: Do legal differences matter?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 535-553, August.
    2. Myles, Gareth D. & Naylor, Robin A., 1996. "A model of tax evasion with group conformity and social customs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 49-66, April.
    3. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    4. Reinganum, Jennifer F & Wilde, Louis L, 1991. "Equilibrium Enforcement and Compliance in the Presence of Tax Practitioners," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 163-181, Spring.
    5. Orviska, Marta & Hudson, John, 2003. "Tax evasion, civic duty and the law abiding citizen," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 83-102, March.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
    7. Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
    8. Helen V. Tauchen & Ann Dryden Witte & Kurt J. Beron, 1989. "Tax Compliance: An Investigation Using Individual TCMP Data," NBER Working Papers 3078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Slemrod, Joel & Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: evidence from a controlled experiment in Minnesota," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 455-483, March.
    10. Graetz, Michael J & Reinganum, Jennifer F & Wilde, Louis L, 1986. "The Tax Compliance Game: Toward an Interactive Theory of Law Enforcement," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
    11. 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 657-683, December.
    12. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arbex, Marcelo, 2013. "Tax enforcement policies, tax evasion and time allocation," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 285-293.
    2. Cullis, John & Jones, Philip & Savoia, Antonio, 2012. "Social norms and tax compliance: Framing the decision to pay tax," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 159-168.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax evasion; social norm; opportunities to evade; optimal audit rule;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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