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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 address one aspect of this issue – how it affects an economic analysis of tax systems. In addressing this task 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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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2777.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2777
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  1. Blumkin, Tomer & Ruffle, Bradley J. & Ganun, Yosef, 2007. "Are Income and Consumption Taxes Ever Really Equivalent? Evidence from a Real-Effort Experiment with Real Goods," MPRA Paper 6479, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Kai Konrad, 2008. "Mobile tax base as a global common," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 395-414, August.
  3. 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.
  4. Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009. "The last refuge of a scoundrel? Patriotism and tax compliance
    [Die letzte Zuflucht eines Schurken? Patriotismus und Steuerehrlichkeit]
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2009-04, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  5. 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.
  6. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Testing the Mill hypothesis of fiscal illusion," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 39-68, January.
  7. Suzanne Scotchmer & Joel Slemrod, 1988. "Randomness in Tax Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 2512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Benno Torgler, 2004. "Moral suasion: An alternative tax policy strategy? Evidence from a controlled field experiment in Switzerland," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 235-253, November.
  11. 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.
  12. Jan Hanousek & Filip Palda, 2002. "Quality of Government Services and the Civic Duty to Pay Taxes in the Czech and Slovak Republics, and other Transition Countries," Public Economics 0209007, EconWPA.
  13. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, 2002. "Trust breeds trust: How taxpayers are treated," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 87-99, 07.
  14. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Konrad, Kai A., 2008. "Mobile tax base as a global common," Munich Reprints in Economics 22088, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. 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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  23. Luke Garrod, 2008. "Price Transparency and Consumer Naivety in a Competitive Market," Working Papers 07-10, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
  24. Benno Torgler, 2003. "Tax Morale, Rule-Governed Behaviour and Trust," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 119-140, June.
  25. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521021807 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Krishna, Aradhna & Slemrod, Joel, 2003. "Behavioral Public Finance: Tax Design As Price Presentation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 189-203, March.
  27. Alm, James & Jacobson, Sarah, 2007. "Using Laboratory Experimentsin Public Economics," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(1), pages 129-52, March.
  28. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  29. 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.
  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. Carlin, Bruce I., 2009. "Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 278-287, March.
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  33. Sung Won Kang & Hugh Rockoff, 2006. "Capitalizing Patriotism: The Liberty Loans of World War I," NBER Working Papers 11919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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