IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/journl/halshs-02301968.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Can Whistleblower Programs Reduce Tax Evasion? Experimental Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - UNIV-RENNES - Université de Rennes - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université, CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal = University of Québec in Montréal)

  • Claude Montmarquette

    (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal = University of Québec in Montréal)

  • Nathalie Viennot-Briot

    (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal = University of Québec in Montréal)

Abstract

There are many ways of tackling tax evasion. The traditional strategies implemented by tax authorities fight fiscal fraud through audit and penalties. However, there also exist a plethora of unconventional methods, such as whistleblower programs. Although there is a rich economic literature on tax evasion, auditing and penalties, tax agencies’ heavy reliance on whistleblower programs has mostly been ignored. We ran an experiment in which taxpayers can punish tax evaders by reporting them to the authorities, even though it is costly for them to do so and despite the lack of any material benefit from doing so. Information on other taxpayers' compliance rates together with the opportunity to report tax evaders has a positive and a very significant effect on the level of income reported. Observing the compliance rates of other participants alone does not suffice to increase tax revenues, while the mere threat of being reported significantly increases revenues.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • David Masclet & Claude Montmarquette & Nathalie Viennot-Briot, 2019. "Can Whistleblower Programs Reduce Tax Evasion? Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-02301968, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-02301968
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2019.101459
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02301968
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02301968/document
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.socec.2019.101459?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    3. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Frey, Bruno S. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Tax morale and conditional cooperation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 136-159, March.
    6. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
    7. Yellen, Janet L, 1984. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 200-205, May.
    8. Cécile Bazart & Mickael Beaud & Dimitri Dubois, 2020. "Whistleblowing vs. Random Audit: An Experimental Test of Relative Efficiency," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 47-67, February.
    9. Jose Apesteguia & Martin Dufwenberg & Reinhard Selten, 2007. "Blowing the Whistle," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 31(1), pages 143-166, April.
    10. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
    11. Jeffrey V. Butler & Danila Serra & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2020. "Motivating Whistleblowers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 605-621, February.
    12. Francesco Guala & Luigi Mittone, 2005. "Experiments in economics: External validity and the robustness of phenomena," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 495-515.
    13. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2007. "Tax evasion and social interactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2089-2112, December.
    14. Benno Torgler & Friedrich Schneider, 2007. "What Shapes Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes? Evidence from Multicultural European Countries," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(2), pages 443-470, June.
    15. Abbink, Klaus & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim, 2009. "The pleasure of being nasty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 306-308, December.
    16. Jeffrey Carpenter & Andrea Robbett & Prottoy A. Akbar, 2018. "Profit Sharing and Peer Reporting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(9), pages 4261-4276, September.
    17. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael J., 1992. "Estimating the Determinants of Taxpayer Compliance With Experimental Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 45(1), pages 107-114, March.
    18. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
    19. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    20. Mathieu Lefebvre & Pierre Pestieau & Arno Riedl & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Les attitudes sont-elles différentes face à la fraude fiscale et à la fraude sociale ?," Post-Print halshs-00724736, HAL.
    21. Bruno S. Frey & Lars P. Feld, 2002. "Deterrence and Morale in Taxation: An Empirical Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 760, CESifo.
    22. Maria Bigoni & Sven-Olof Fridolfsson & Chloé Le Coq & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2012. "fines, leniency, and rewards in antitrust," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(2), pages 368-390, June.
    23. Yaniv, Gideon, 2001. "Revenge, Tax Informing, and the Optimal Bounty," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 3(2), pages 225-233.
    24. Bartuli, Jenny & Djawadi, Behnud Mir & Fahr, René, 2016. "Business Ethics in Organizations: An Experimental Examination of Whistleblowing and Personality," IZA Discussion Papers 10190, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    25. James Alm & Isabel Sanchez & Ana DE Juan, 1995. "Economic and Noneconomic Factors in Tax Compliance," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 1-18, February.
    26. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-817, August.
    27. 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.
    28. Clara Xiaoling Chen & Tatiana Sandino, 2012. "Can Wages Buy Honesty? The Relationship Between Relative Wages and Employee Theft," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 967-1000, September.
    29. Jeremy Clark & Lana Friesen & Andrew Muller, 2004. "The Good, the Bad, and the Regulator: An Experimental Test of Two Conditional Audit Schemes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 69-87, January.
    30. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2001. "Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
    31. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1973. "A note on optimum tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 265-270, July.
    32. Demski, Joel S. & Sappington, David E. M. & Spiller, Pablo T., 1988. "Incentive schemes with multiple agents and bankruptcy constraints," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 156-167, February.
    33. Sandrine Spaeter & Marc Willinger, 2006. "Misreporting, retroactive audit and redistribution," Working Papers of BETA 2006-30, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    34. Ching-To Ma, 1988. "Unique Implementation of Incentive Contracts with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 555-572.
    35. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    36. Daniel J. Zizzo & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others'Incomes?," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 63-64, pages 39-65.
    37. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    38. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2010. "Feedback, punishment and cooperation in public good experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 689-702, March.
    39. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
    40. Charles Figuières & David Masclet & Marc Willinger, 2013. "Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary Contributions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 15(5), pages 745-772, October.
    41. Paul E. Fischer & John S. Hughes, 1997. "Mutual Monitoring and Best Agency Contracts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(2), pages 334-334, June.
    42. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    43. Reuben, Ernesto & Stephenson, Matt, 2013. "Nobody likes a rat: On the willingness to report lies and the consequences thereof," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 384-391.
    44. Arthur Snow & Ronald S. Warren, 2005. "Ambiguity about Audit Probability, Tax Compliance, and Taxpayer Welfare," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(4), pages 865-871, October.
    45. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484.
    46. Barron, John M & Gjerde, Kathy Paulson, 1997. "Peer Pressure in an Agency Relationship," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 234-254, April.
    47. Giorgio Coricelli & Mateus Joffily & Claude Montmarquette & Marie Villeval, 2010. "Cheating, emotions, and rationality: an experiment on tax evasion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(2), pages 226-247, June.
    48. Alm, James & Sanchez, Isabel & de Juan, Ana, 1995. "Economic and Noneconomic Factors in Tax Compliance," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 3-18.
    49. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64:p:03 is not listed on IDEAS
    50. Hallsworth, Michael & List, John A. & Metcalfe, Robert D. & Vlaev, Ivo, 2017. "The behavioralist as tax collector: Using natural field experiments to enhance tax compliance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 14-31.
    51. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
    52. Alm, James & Torgler, Benno, 2006. "Culture differences and tax morale in the United States and in Europe," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 224-246, April.
    53. Johnson, Cathleen & Masclet, David & Montmarquette, Claude, 2010. "The Effect of Perfect Monitoring of Matched Income on Sales Tax Compliance: An Experimental Investigation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 63(1), pages 121-148, March.
    54. Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker, 2005. "Combining Monetary and Social Sanctions to Promote Cooperation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 649-660, July.
    55. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    56. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1975. "Macroeconomic Constraints, Economic Efficiency and Ethics: An Introduction to Kantian Economics," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 42(168), pages 430-437, November.
    57. Cowell, Frank A. & P.F. Gordon, James, 1988. "Unwillingness to pay : Tax evasion and public good provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 305-321, August.
    58. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, May.
    59. 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.
    60. Giulia Mascagni, 2018. "From The Lab To The Field: A Review Of Tax Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 273-301, April.
    61. Gideon Yaniv, 2001. "Revenge, Tax Informing, and the Optimal Bounty," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 3(2), pages 225-233, April.
    62. Malcomson, James M, 1981. "Unemployment and the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 848-866, December.
    63. Schmolke, Klaus Ulrich & Utikal, Verena, 2016. "Whistleblowing: Incentives and situational determinants," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 09/2016, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    64. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2003. "Money burning and rank egalitarianism with random dictators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 263-266, November.
    65. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Nyreröd, Theo, 2021. "A Fresh Look at Whistleblower Rewards," SITE Working Paper Series 56, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.
    2. Rustam Romaniuc & Dimitri Dubois & Eugen Dimant & Adrian Lupusor & Valeriu Prohnitchi, 2022. "Understanding cross-cultural differences in peer reporting practices: evidence from tax evasion games in Moldova and France," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 190(1), pages 127-147, January.
    3. Philipp Chapkovski & Luca Corazzini & Valeria Maggian, 2021. "Does Whistleblowing on Tax Evaders Reduce Ingroup Cooperation?," Working Papers 2021:20, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. James Alm, 2019. "What Motivates Tax Compliance?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 353-388, April.
    2. Aaron Kamm & Christian Koch & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2017. "The ghost of institutions past: History as an obstacle to fighting tax evasion," Working Papers 20170008, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Oct 2017.
    3. Klaus Abbink & David Masclet & Daniel Mirza, 2018. "Inequality and inter-group conflicts: experimental evidence," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 50(3), pages 387-423, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Ananish Chaudhuri, 2011. "Sustaining cooperation in laboratory public goods experiments: a selective survey of the literature," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(1), pages 47-83, March.
    6. Mateus Joffily & David Masclet & Charles N Noussair & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Emotions, Sanctions, and Cooperation," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 80(4), pages 1002-1027, April.
    7. Fluet, Claude & Galbiati, Rpbertp, 2016. "Lois et normes : les enseignements de l'économie comportementale," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 92(1-2), pages 191-215, Mars-Juin.
    8. Peter Duersch & Maroš Servátka, 2009. "Punishment with Uncertain Outcomes in the Prisoner’s Dilemma," Working Papers in Economics 09/12, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    9. Castro, Lucio & Scartascini, Carlos, 2015. "Tax compliance and enforcement in the pampas evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 65-82.
    10. Gerxhani, Klarita & Schram, Arthur, 2006. "Tax evasion and income source: A comparative experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 402-422, June.
    11. Torgler, Benno, 2003. "To evade taxes or not to evade: that is the question," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 283-302, July.
    12. Torgler, Benno, 2011. "Tax morale and compliance : review of evidence and case studies for Europe," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5922, The World Bank.
    13. James, Simon & Edwards, Alison, 2010. "An annotated bibliography of tax compliance and tax compliance costs," MPRA Paper 26106, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Friedrich Heinemann & Martin Kocher, 2013. "Tax compliance under tax regime changes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(2), pages 225-246, April.
    15. Kalina Koleva, 2005. "Seeking for an optimal tax administration: the efficiency costs’ approach [A la recherche de l'administration fiscale optimale : l'approche par les coûts d'efficience]," Post-Print halshs-00195354, HAL.
    16. Kalina Koleva, 2005. "A la recherche de l'administration fiscale optimale : l'approche par les coûts d'efficience," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques r05050, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    17. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.
    18. Çule, Monika & Fulton, Murray, 2009. "Business culture and tax evasion: Why corruption and the unofficial economy can persist," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 811-822, December.
    19. Buckenmaier, Johannes & Dimant, Eugen & Mittone, Luigi, 2020. "Effects of institutional history and leniency on collusive corruption and tax evasion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 296-313.
    20. Marcelo L. Bérgolo & Rodrigo Ceni & Guillermo Cruces & Matias Giaccobasso & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2017. "Tax Audits as Scarecrows: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal fraud; whistleblowers; laboratory experiment.; ambiguous risk;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-02301968. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: CCSD (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.