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Rethinking the Research Paradigms for Analyzing Tax Compliance Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • James Alm

    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Erich Kirchler

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Stephan Muehlbacher

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Katharina Gangl

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Eva Hofmann

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Christoph Kogler

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Maria Pollai

    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

Abstract

In this paper we give our perspective on the different paradigms that have shaped – and seem likely to shape in the future – research in the field of tax compliance behavior. These research paradigms include viewing tax evasion as a decision under risk made by a single taxpayer, as a social dilemma in which there is a tension between individual interests (e.g., cheating on one's taxes) and collective goals (e.g., providing public goods), as a series of decisions made by many different types of taxpayers, and as a psychological contract between tax authorities and taxpayers. We argue that these different paradigms require that particular attention be paid to the main "actors in the field", which involves going beyond a focus on a single taxpayer to consider other taxpayers, tax accountants, the tax authorities, and the government. The ways in which these actors interact in different climates, especially the dynamics of power and trust between the actors, must also be considered. We conclude with a discussion of a framework – the "slippery slope framework" – that attempts to synthesize these different research paradigms. Throughout, we illustrate our arguments by reference to research that focuses especially on the European experience.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & Erich Kirchler & Stephan Muehlbacher & Katharina Gangl & Eva Hofmann & Christoph Kogler & Maria Pollai, 2012. "Rethinking the Research Paradigms for Analyzing Tax Compliance Behavior," Working Papers 1210, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1210
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax evasion; behavioral economics; social norms; slippery slope;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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