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Tax Evasion: Cheating Rationally or Deciding Emotionally?

  • Claude Montmarquette

    ()

    (CIRANO, University of Montreal, Montreal (Quebec), Canada)

  • Giorgio Coricelli

    ()

    (CNRS, Centre des Neurosciences Cognitives,Bron, F-69500, France)

  • Mateus Joffily

    ()

    (CNRS, Centre des Neurosciences Cognitives,Bron, F-69500, France)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    ()

    (University of Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France; CNRS, UMR 5824, GATE, Ecully, F-69130, France; ENS LSH, Lyon, F-69007, France ; Centre Leon Berard, Lyon, F-69003, France)

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.

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Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 0724.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:0724
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  1. Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2004. "Tax Evasion and Social Interactions," Cahiers de recherche 0432, CIRPEE.
  2. Bayer, Ralph-C & Sutter, Matthias, 2009. "The excess burden of tax evasion--An experimental detection-concealment contest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 527-543, July.
  3. 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 657-83, December.
  4. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  5. Spicer, Michael W. & Thomas, J. Everett, 1982. "Audit probabilities and the tax evasion decision: An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 241-245, September.
  6. Ariel Rubinstein, 2006. "Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: A Study of Response Times," Working Papers 2006.36, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  7. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  8. 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(n. 1), pages 125-38, March.
  9. Ronald G. Cummings & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Michael McKee & Benno Torgler, 2007. "Effects of Tax Morale on Tax Compliance: Experimental and Survey Evidence," NCER Working Paper Series 12, National Centre for Econometric Research.
  10. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, August.
  11. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  12. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7vz7w609, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  13. Myles, Gareth D. & Naylor, Robin A., 1996. "A model of tax evasion with group conformity and social customs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 49-66, April.
  14. Alm, James & Cronshaw, Mark B & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Tax Compliance with Endogenous Audit Selection Rules," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 27-45.
  15. Benno Torgler, 2004. "Moral Suasion: An alternative tax policy strategy? Evidence from a controlled field experiment in Switzerland," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-01, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  16. Bosco, Luigi & Mittone, Luigi, 1997. "Tax Evasion and Moral Constraints: Some Experimental Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 297-324.
  17. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
  18. 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.
  19. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  20. Wenzel, Michael, 2004. "An analysis of norm processes in tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-228, April.
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