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Tax Evasion and the Importance of Trust

Author

Listed:
  • Hammar, Henrik

    (Department of Economics, Göteborg University and National Institute of Economic Research (NIER))

  • Jagers, Sverker

    () (Department of Political Science, Göteborg University)

  • Nordblom, Katarina

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law)

Abstract

Unless people pay the taxes they are obliged to pay, a general welfare state will eventually collapse. Thus, for the welfare state to survive in the long run, tax compliance is of utmost importance. Using Swedish individual survey data we analyze which factors affect the perception of tax evasion. The analysis is conducted on ten different taxes and the results differ widely. Hence, we show that it is important to study different taxes separately rather than treating tax evasion as one common phenomenon. In this paper we focus on the importance of different kinds of trust. Whether or not people in general are regarded as trustworthy only has a minor impact on perceived tax evasion. Instead, what matters is trust or distrust in politicians. People who distrust the parliament are more likely than others to think that tax evasion is common, and the result holds for most of the taxes studied. This may have severe long-run consequences for the welfare state. If people stop trusting their leading politicians, social norms about tax compliance deteriorate and the possibilities of collecting taxes for maintain- ing the welfare state are reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Hammar, Henrik & Jagers, Sverker & Nordblom, Katarina, 2005. "Tax Evasion and the Importance of Trust," Working Papers in Economics 179, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0179
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2742
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gordon, James P. P., 1989. "Individual morality and reputation costs as deterrents to tax evasion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 797-805, April.
    2. Bordignon, Massimo, 1993. "A fairness approach to income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 345-362, October.
    3. Benno Torgler, 2003. "Tax Morale, Rule-Governed Behaviour and Trust," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 119-140, June.
    4. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
    5. Benno Torgler, 2004. "Tax Morale, Trust and Corruption: Empirical Evidence from Transition Countries," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-05, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-373, August.
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Distrusting distrust
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-09-20 14:21:29

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
    2. Nordblom, Katarina & Ohlsson, Henry, 2006. "Tax avoidance and intra-family transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1669-1680, September.
    3. Felix Ebeling & Christoph Feldhaus & Johannes Fendrich, 2012. "Follow the Leader or Follow Anyone - Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 03-04, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences, revised 20 Jan 2013.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trust in politicians; generalized trust; social capital; general welfare state; tax policy; tax compliance;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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