Tax Compliance and Psychic Costs: Behavioral Experimental Evidence Using a Physiological Marker
Although paying taxes is a key element in a well-functioning civilized society, the understanding of why people pay taxes is still limited. What current evidence shows is that, given relatively low audit probabilities and penalties in case of tax evasion, compliance levels are higher than would be predicted by traditional economics-of-crime models. Models emphasizing that taxpayers make strategic, financially motivated compliance decisions, seemingly assume an overly restrictive view of human nature. Law abidance may be more accurately explained by social norms, a concept that has gained growing importance as a facet in better understanding the tax compliance puzzle. This study analyzes the relation between psychic cost arising from breaking social norms and tax compliance using a heart rate variability (HRV) measure that captures the psychobiological or neural equivalents of psychic costs (e.g., feelings of guilt or shame) that may arise from the contemplation of real or imagined actions and produce immediate consequential physiologic discomfort. Specifically, this nonintrusive HRV measurement method obtains information on activity in two branches of the autonomous nervous system (ANS), the excitatory sympathetic nervous system and the inhibitory parasympathetic system. Using time-frequency analysis of the (interpolated) heart rate signal, it identifies the level of activity (power) at different velocities of change (frequencies), whose LF (low frequency) to HF (high frequency band) ratio can be used as an index of sympathovagal balance or psychic stress. Our results, based on a large set of observations in a laboratory setting, provide empirical evidence of a positive correlation between psychic stress and tax compliance and thus underscore the importance of moral sentiment in the tax compliance context.
|Date of creation:||07 Nov 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.qut.edu.au/research/research-projects/queensland-behavioural-economics-group-qube|
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.:
- Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004.
"Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
- Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
- Erard, Brian & Feinstein, Jonathan S, 1994. "The Role of Moral Sentiments and Audit Perceptions in Tax Compliance," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 70-89.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Falk, Armin & Menrath, Ingo & Siegrist, Johannes & Verde, Pablo Emilio, 2011.
"Cardiovascular Consequences of Unfair Pay,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
8463, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Armin Falk & Ingo Menrath & Pablo Emilio Verde & Johannes Siegrist, 2011. "Cardiovascular Consequences of Unfair Pay," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 380, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
- Falk, Armin & Menrath, Ingo & Verde, Pablo Emilio & Siegrist, Johannes, 2011. "Cardiovascular Consequences of Unfair Pay," IZA Discussion Papers 5720, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
- Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009.
"The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance,"
IZA Discussion Papers
4121, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," CEPR Discussion Papers 7215, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009.
"The last refuge of a scoundrel? Patriotism and tax compliance
[Die letzte Zuflucht eines Schurken? Patriotismus und Steuerehrlichkeit]," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2009-04, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
- Benno Torgler & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2005. "Tax Amnesties and Political Participation," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(3), pages 403-431, May.
- repec:att:wimass:9610 is not listed on IDEAS
- Benno Torgler, 2003. "Tax Amnesty and Political Participation," Working papers 2003/07, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
- Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996.
9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Jordi Brandts & Orsola Garofalo, 2010.
"Gender Pairings and Accountability Effect,"
Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena
034, University of Siena.
- Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1994. "The Role of Moral Sentiments and Audit Perceptions in Tax Compliance," Carleton Industrial Organization Research Unit (CIORU) 94-03, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
- 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.
- 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.
- Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
- Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
- Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-26, September.
- 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.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:qut:qubewp:wp001. 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: (Dipa Sarkar)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.