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Less cheating? The effects of prefilled forms on compliance behavior

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  • Fochmann, Martin
  • Müller, Nadja
  • Overesch, Michael

Abstract

As a consequence of the digital transformation, individuals are often confronted with prefilled forms or prefilled data entry masks. In situations where cheating and lying are of concern, prefilling and defaults might reduce dishonest behavior. In a controlled experiment, we investigate how correctly and incorrectly prefilled forms influence compliance behavior. We frame our experiment as filing the annual income tax return. We show that correct prefilling enhances compliance. However, in cases of incorrect prefilling, we observe asymmetric effects. If prefilled income is lower than true income, we find no positive compliance effect, and compliance is on the same level as with blank forms. If prefilled income is higher than true income, prefilling still has a positive effect on compliance. In that case, compliance is on the same level as with correctly prefilled forms and higher than with blank forms. Our study contributes to the literature on cheating and lying by showing that prefilled forms and defaults affect compliance by changing the moral costs of dishonest behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Fochmann, Martin & Müller, Nadja & Overesch, Michael, 2018. "Less cheating? The effects of prefilled forms on compliance behavior," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 227, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:227
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    Cited by:

    1. Antinyan, Armenak & Asatryan, Zareh, 2019. "Nudging for tax compliance: A meta-analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-055, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. van Dijk, Wilco W. & Goslinga, Sjoerd & Terwel, Bart W. & van Dijk, Eric, 2020. "How choice architecture can promote and undermine tax compliance: Testing the effects of prepopulated tax returns and accuracy confirmation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    3. William G. Morrison & Bradley J. Ruffle, 2020. "Insurable losses, pre-filled claims forms and honesty in reporting," Working Paper series 20-18, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    4. Martin Fochmann & Frank Hechtner & Tobias Kölle & Michael Overesch, 2021. "Combating overreporting of deductions in tax returns: prefilling and restricting the deductibility of expenditures," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 91(7), pages 935-964, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dishonesty; Defaults; Prefilled Forms; Tax Compliance; Behavioral Economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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