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Attitudes, Incentives and Tax Compliance

  • V.U. Trivedi
  • M. Shehata
  • S. Mestelman

Our study examines whether combining experimental economics and economics psychology techniques can provide a better understanding of individuals’ tax compliance decisions in the laboratory. We find that considering individuals’ attitudinal, personality and intention measures in addition to economic based variables provides a richer understanding of individuals’ actual tax compliance decisions in the laboratory in the face of monetary incentives. We also find that hypothetical and actual compliance decisions in the laboratory are significantly different from each other. Specifically, we find that actual (hypothetical) compliance decisions are significantly influenced by their moral reasoning (anti-establishment) views. Finally, we find that individuals’ actual compliance decisions in the laboratory correlate more significantly with their admission of prior evasion than either their hypothetical compliance decisions or their responses to case scenarios. The latter result, coupled with the lack of appropriate field data on tax compliance, indicates that actual compliance decisions in the laboratory in the face of monetary incentives and with the use of tax terms in the instructions may be an ideal method of obtaining data on individuals’ tax compliance.

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File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/rsrch/papers/archive/2004-08.pdf
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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2004-08.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2004-08
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  1. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
  2. Feld, Lars P & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2002. "Tax Evasion and Voting: An Experimental Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 197-222.
  3. Alm, James & Sanchez, Isabel & de Juan, Ana, 1995. "Economic and Noneconomic Factors in Tax Compliance," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 3-18.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty R. & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Fiscal exchange, collective decision institutions, and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 285-303, December.
  7. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-71.
  8. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x, June.
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