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Tax Compliance as the Result of a Psychological Tax Contract: The Role of Incentives and Responsive Regulation

  • Lars P. Feld
  • Bruno S. Frey

In this paper, we develop the concept of a psychological tax contract that goes beyond the traditional deterrence model and explains tax morale as a complicated interaction between taxpayers and the government. Based on crowding theory, the impact of deterrence and re-wards on tax morale is discussed. As a contractual relationship implies duties and rights for each contract partner, sticking to the fiscal exchange paradigm between citizens and the state increases tax compliance. Citizens are willing to honestly declare income even if they do not receive a full public good equivalent to their tax payments as long as the political process is perceived to be fair and legitimate. At the procedural level, a friendly treatment of taxpayers by the tax office in auditing processes increases tax compliance.

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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 2006-10.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2006-10
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  1. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, . "Trust Breeds Trust: How Taxpayers are Treated," IEW - Working Papers 098, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
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  4. 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.
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  8. Feld, Lars P & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2002. "Tax Evasion and Voting: An Experimental Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 197-222.
  9. 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.
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  11. Pommerehne, Werner W. & Frey, Bruno S., 1992. "The effects of tax administration on tax morale," Discussion Papers, Series II 191, University of Konstanz, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 178 "Internationalization of the Economy".
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  14. Eliza Ahmed & Valerie Braithwaite, 2004. "When Tax Collectors Become Collectors for Child Support and Student Loans: Jeopardizing the Revenue Base?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 303-326, 08.
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  18. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. "Direct democracy, political culture, and the outcome of economic policy: a report on the Swiss experience," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, June.
  20. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  21. Kirchler, Erich, 1999. "Reactance to taxation: Employers' attitudes towards taxes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 131-138, July.
  22. Calvin Blackwell, 2007. "A Meta-Analysis of Tax Compliance Experiments," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0724, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  23. Alm, James & Sanchez, Isabel & de Juan, Ana, 1995. "Economic and Noneconomic Factors in Tax Compliance," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 3-18.
  24. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-71.
  25. Pommerehne, Werner W & Weck-Hannemann, Hannelore, 1996. " Tax Rates, Tax Administration and Income Tax Evasion in Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 161-70, July.
  26. Porcano, Thomas M., 1988. "Correlates of tax evasion," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 47-67, March.
  27. Frey, Bruno S, 1997. "A Constitution for Knaves Crowds Out Civic Virtues," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1043-53, July.
  28. Elffers, Henk & Weigel, Russell H. & Hessing, Dick J., 1987. "The consequences of different strategies for measuring tax evasion behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 311-337, September.
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