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Moral Suasion: An alternative tax policy strategy? Evidence from a controlled field experiment in Switzerland

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  • Benno Torgler
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    In a controlled field experiment in Switzerland this paper analyses the effects of moral suasion on the timely paying and filling out of the tax form 2001, and the honesty regarding the declaration of domestic income from capital gains, lottery winnings, and certain insurance benefits. Comparisons of different tax filling years and multiple regression estimations have been done using these three factors as dependent variables to check if there is a significant difference between the control group and the treatment group, controlling for additional factors that might influence compliance behaviour. In February 2002 the treatment group received a letter signed by the commune?s fiscal commissioner containing normative appeals. Results indicate that moral suasion has hardly any effect on taxpayers? compliance behaviour. The strongest effect can be observed for the variable tax payments.

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    Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2004-01.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2004
    Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2004-01
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    1. 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(1), pages 125-138, March.
    2. Benno Torgler & Christoph A. Schaltegger & Markus Schaffner, 2003. "Is Forgiveness Divine? A Cross-Culture Comparison of Tax Amnesties," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 139(III), pages 375-396, September.
    3. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, "undated". "Trust Breeds Trust: How Taxpayers are Treated," IEW - Working Papers 098, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    5. Albert Breton & Ronald Wintrobe, 1978. "A Theory of 'Moral' Suasion," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 11(2), pages 210-219, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-373, August.
    8. Brian Erard & Chih-Chin Ho, 1999. "Searching for Ghosts: Who Are the Nonfilers nd How Much Tax Do They Owe?," Carleton Economic Papers 99-11, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2001.
    9. repec:ntj:journl:v:54:y:2001:i:n._1:p:125-38 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    11. Erard, Brian & Ho, Chih-Chin, 2001. "Searching for ghosts: who are the nonfilers and how much tax do they owe?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 25-50, July.
    12. Pyle, D J, 1991. " The Economics of Taxpayer Compliance," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 163-198.
    13. Gary Burtless, 1995. "The Case for Randomized Field Trials in Economic and Policy Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 63-84, Spring.
    14. Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1991. "An Econometric Analysis of Income Tax Evasion and its Detection," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 14-35, Spring.
    15. Bosco, Luigi & Mittone, Luigi, 1997. "Tax Evasion and Moral Constraints: Some Experimental Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 297-324.
    16. 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.
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