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Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance

Author

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  • Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
  • Cait Lamberton
  • Michael I. Norton

Abstract

Two experiments show that eliciting taxpayer preferences on government spending—providing taxpayer agency--increases tax compliance. We first create an income and taxation environment in a laboratory setting to test for compliance with a lab tax. Allowing a treatment group to express nonbinding preferences over tax spending priorities, leads to a 16% increase in tax compliance. A followup online study tests this treatment with a simulation of paying US federal taxes. Allowing taxpayers to signal their preferences on the distribution of government spending, results in a 15% reduction in the stated take-up rate of a questionable tax loophole. Providing taxpayer agency recouples tax payments with the public services obtained in return, reduces general anti-tax sentiment, and holds satisfaction with tax payment stable despite increased compliance with tax dues. With tax noncompliance costing the US government $385billion annually, providing taxpayer agency could have meaningful economic impact. At the same time, giving taxpayers a voice may act as a two-way 'nudge,' transforming tax payment from a passive experience to a channel of communication between taxpayers and government.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Cait Lamberton & Michael I. Norton, 2014. "Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance," CEP Discussion Papers dp1270, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1270
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    File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1270.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Casal, Sandro & Kogler, Christoph & Mittone, Luigi & Kirchler, Erich, 2016. "Tax compliance depends on voice of taxpayers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 141-150.
    2. Doerrenberg, Philipp, 2015. "Does the use of tax revenue matter for tax compliance behavior?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 30-34.
    3. Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl, 2017. "Tax morale and the role of social norms and reciprocity - Evidence from a randomized survey experiment," ifo Working Paper Series 242, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    4. Giulia Mascagni, 2018. "From The Lab To The Field: A Review Of Tax Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 273-301, April.
    5. Radu Vranceanu & Angela Sutan & Delphine Dubart, 2016. "Discontent with taxes and the timing of taxation : experimental evidence," Working Papers hal-01282724, HAL.
    6. Gobena, Lemessa Bayissa & Van Dijke, Marius, 2016. "Power, justice, and trust: A moderated mediation analysis of tax compliance among Ethiopian business owners," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 24-37.
    7. Bott, Kristina Maria & Cappelen, Alexander W. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2017. "You’ve got mail: A randomised Field experiment on tax evasion," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 10/2017, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    8. Kessler, Judd B. & Norton, Michael I., 2016. "Tax aversion in labor supply," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 15-28.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax compliance; taxpayer agency; taxpayer satisfaction; government spending;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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