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The role of information in tax compliance: Evidence from a natural field experiment

  • Tuomas Kosonen
  • Olli Ropponen

It is challenging to distinguish the role of information in tax compliance from other factors affecting it. This paper utilizes a novel natural field experiment design to study the issue. In the experiment firms reporting their VAT were sent a letter asking them questions about their attitude towards the tax authority. The introductions to the questions provided candid information about VAT rules for a randomized treatment group, while a randomized control group was only asked questions without additional information. We observe the effects of the treatments directly from firm-level tax records. Providing information did reduce the noncompliance in tax reporting, which indicates that there were unintentional errors. The experimental design also allows us to study whether the difficulty and novelty of the tax code plays any role in tax compliance. The results indicate that tax reporting changes when new and easy information is provided.

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Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Working Papers with number 48.

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Date of creation: 16 Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:48
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  1. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Tuomas Kosonen & Olli Ropponen, 2013. "The role of information in tax compliance: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Working Papers 48, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  3. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Card, David & Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt48z7z9dn, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
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  8. Kevin A. Hassett & Alan J. Auerbach, 2005. "Toward Fundamental Tax Reform," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 49492, April.
  9. Gangl, Katharina & Torgler, Benno & Kirchler, Erich & Hofmann, Eva, 2014. "Effects of supervision on tax compliance: Evidence from a field experiment in Austria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 378-382.
  10. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ztax: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010.
  11. Abeler, Johannes & Jäger, Simon, 2013. "Complex Tax Incentives: An Experimental Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 7373, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  13. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2003. "The Effect of Information on Product Quality: Evidence from Restaurant Hygiene Grade Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 409-451.
  14. Jonah E. Rockoff & Douglas O. Staiger & Thomas J. Kane & Eric S. Taylor, 2012. "Information and Employee Evaluation: Evidence from a Randomized Intervention in Public Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3184-3213, December.
  15. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548.
  16. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414.
  17. Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
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