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

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  • Kosonen, Tuomas
  • Ropponen, Olli

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kosonen, Tuomas & Ropponen, Olli, 2013. "The role of information in tax compliance: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Working Papers 48, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  • Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:48
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    1. Erard, Brian, 1997. "Self-selection with measurement errors A microeconometric analysis of the decision to seek tax assistance and its implications for tax compliance," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 319-356, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel, 2016. "Experimental Criminal Law. A Survey of Contributions from Law, Economics and Criminology," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Kosonen, Tuomas & Ropponen, Olli, 2015. "The role of information in tax compliance: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 18-21.
    3. Philipp Doerrenberg & Jan Schmitz, 2017. "Tax compliance and information provision. A field experiment with small firms," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 1(1), pages 47-54, February.
    4. Michael Chirico & Robert Inman & Charles Loeffler & John MacDonald & Holger Sieg, 2016. "Deterring Delinquency: A Field Experiment in Improving Tax Compliance Behavior," Natural Field Experiments 00543, The Field Experiments Website.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax compliance; information; field experiment; Taxation; Verotus; Taxation and Social Transfers; Julkisen talouden rahoitus ja tulonsiirrot; C930 - Field Experiments; H250 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT); H260 - Tax Evasion (Compliance; Collection);

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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