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Nudging Businesses to Pay Their Taxes: Does Timing Matter?

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  • Gillitzer, Christian

    () (University of Sydney)

  • Sinning, Mathias

    () (Australian National University)

Abstract

This paper provides theoretical and empirical evidence on the implications of the timing of reminders by studying the effect of varying the timing of reminder letters to taxpayers on their payment behavior. The collection of unpaid tax debts constitutes a considerable challenge for tax authorities. We show that varying the timing of a reminder letter has a theoretically ambiguous effect on tax payments. We study the payment behavior of business taxpayers in a field experiment in Australia and find that a simple reminder letter increases the probability of payment by about 25 percentage points relative to a control group that does not receive a letter from the tax authority. However, variation over a three-week period in the timing of the reminder letter has no effect on the probability of payment within seven weeks of the due date. Our findings indicate that sending reminders early results in faster payment of debts with no effect on the ultimate probability of payment.

Suggested Citation

  • Gillitzer, Christian & Sinning, Mathias, 2018. "Nudging Businesses to Pay Their Taxes: Does Timing Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 11599, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11599
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gächter, Simon & Orzen, Henrik & Renner, Elke & Starmer, Chris, 2009. "Are experimental economists prone to framing effects? A natural field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 443-446, June.
    2. Slemrod, Joel & Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: evidence from a controlled experiment in Minnesota," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 455-483, March.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax compliance; business taxation; natural field experiment; behavioral insights;

    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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