IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Nice Guys Finish Last: Are People with Higher Tax Morale Taxed More Heavily?

  • Doerrenberg, Philipp


    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Duncan, Denvil


    (Indiana University)

  • Fuest, Clemens


    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Peichl, Andreas


    (ZEW Mannheim)

This paper is the first to provide evidence of efficient taxation of groups with heterogeneous levels of 'tax morale'. We set up an optimal income tax model where high tax morale implies a high subjective cost of evading taxes. The model predicts that 'nice guys finish last': groups with higher tax morale will be taxed more heavily, simply because taxing them is less costly. Based on unique cross-country micro data and an IV approach to rule out reverse causality, we find empirical support for this hypothesis. Income groups with high tax morale systematically face higher average and marginal tax rates.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6275.

in new window

Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6275
Contact details of provider: Postal:
IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 1980. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521233293, September.
  2. Eytan Sheshinski, 1972. "The Optimal Linear Income-tax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 297-302.
  3. Lubian, Diego & Zarri, Luca, 2011. "Happiness and tax morale: An empirical analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 223-243.
  4. 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.
  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. Benno Torgler, 2003. "The Importance of Faith: Tax Morale and Religiosity," CREMA Working Paper Series 2003-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  7. Stephen P. Jenkins & Richard V. Burkhauser & Shuaizhang Feng & Jeff Larrimore, 2009. "Measuring Inequality Using Censored Data: A Multiple Imputation Approach," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 866, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
  10. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  12. Halla Martin, 2012. "Tax Morale and Compliance Behavior: First Evidence on a Causal Link," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-27, April.
  13. Qari, Salmai & Konrad, Kai A. & Geys, Benny, 2012. "Patriotism, taxation and international mobility," Munich Reprints in Economics 22071, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl, 2013. "Progressive taxation and tax morale," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 293-316, June.
  15. Sandmo, Agnar, 1981. "Income tax evasion, labour supply, and the equity--efficiency tradeoff," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 265-288, December.
  16. Benno Torgler & Friedrich Schneider, 2007. "The Impact of Tax Morale and Institutional Quality on the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1899, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Kai A. Konrad & Salmai Qari, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(315), pages 516-533, 07.
  18. 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, 05.
  19. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
  20. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 31-52, August.
  21. Joel Slemrod & Caroline Weber, 2012. "Evidence of the invisible: toward a credibility revolution in the empirical analysis of tax evasion and the informal economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 25-53, February.
  22. Guglielmo Barone & Sauro Mocetti, 2011. "Tax morale and public spending inefficiency," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(6), pages 724-749, December.
  23. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2009. "Civic Vitue and Labor Market Institutions," Post-Print hal-00812847, HAL.
  24. Bruno S. Frey & Lars P. Feld, 2002. "Deterrence and Morale in Taxation: An Empirical Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 760, CESifo Group Munich.
  25. Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Buttrick, Steve & Duncan, Denvil, 2010. "Global Reform Of Personal Income Taxation, 1981–2005: Evidence From 189 Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(3), pages 447-78, September.
  26. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  27. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  28. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
  29. Torgler, Benno, 2005. "Tax morale and direct democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 525-531, June.
  30. 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.
  31. Guido W. Imbens, 2010. "Better LATE Than Nothing: Some Comments on Deaton (2009) and Heckman and Urzua (2009)," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 399-423, June.
  32. Cummings, Ronald G. & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McKee, Michael & Torgler, Benno, 2009. "Tax morale affects tax compliance: Evidence from surveys and an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 447-457, June.
  33. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2004. "Culture Differences and Tax Morale in the United States and in Europe," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  34. Andras Simonovits, 2011. "Higher tax morale implies a higher optimal income tax rate," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1137, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  35. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
  36. 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.
  37. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1993. "Tax evasion and optimal commodity taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 261-275, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6275. 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: (Mark Fallak)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.