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Tax Evasion: Cheating Rationally or Deciding Emotionally?

Author

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  • Giorgio Coricelli
  • Mateus Joffily
  • Claude Montmarquette
  • Marie-Claire Villeval

Abstract

The economic models of tax compliance predict that individuals should evade taxes when the expected benefit of cheating is greater than its expected cost. When this condition is fulfilled, the high compliance however observed remains a puzzle. In this paper, we investigate the role of emotions as a possible explanation of tax compliance. Our laboratory experiment shows that emotional arousal, measured by Skin Conductance Responses, increases in the proportion of evaded taxes. The perspective of punishment after an audit, especially when the pictures of the evaders are publicly displayed, also raises emotions. We show that an audit policy that induces shame on the evaders favors compliance. Les modèles économiques d'évasion fiscale prédisent que les individus devraient frauder dès que le bénéfice attendu de l'évasion dépasse son coût espéré. Sous cette condition, le fort taux de revenu déclaré pourtant observé constitue une énigme. Dans cet article, nous nous intéressons au rôle des émotions comme explication possible de ce phénomène. Notre expérience de laboratoire montre que l'intensité des émotions, mesurée par la conductance de la peau, augmente avec la proportion du revenu qui n'est pas déclarée. La perspective d'une sanction à l'issue d'un contrôle, en particulier lorsque la photo des contrevenants est diffusée, soulève également des émotions. Nous montrons qu'une politique de contrôle qui suscite la honte chez les fraudeurs favorise l'honnêteté fiscale.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Coricelli & Mateus Joffily & Claude Montmarquette & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2007. "Tax Evasion: Cheating Rationally or Deciding Emotionally?," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-22, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2007s-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cervellati, Matteo & Vanin, Paolo, 2013. "“Thou shalt not covet”: Prohibitions, temptation and moral values," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 15-28.
    2. Kai A. Konrad & Salmai Qari, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(315), pages 516-533, July.
    3. Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel?," Munich Reprints in Economics 13960, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    4. Batrancea Larissa-Margareta & Nichita Ramona-Anca, 2012. "A Neuroeconomic Approach Of Tax Behavior," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 649-654, July.
    5. van Winden Frans A.A.M. & Ash Elliott, 2012. "On the Behavioral Economics of Crime," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 181-213, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax evasion; emotions; neuro-economics; physiological measures; shame; experiments.; fraude fiscale; émotions; neuro-économie; mesures physiologiques; honte; expériences.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • 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

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