Are your tax problems an opportunity not to pay taxes? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment


Blesse, Sebastian


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URL: https://madoc.bib.uni-mannheim.de/60144
URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-601441
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2021
The title of a journal, publication series: ZEW Discussion Papers
Volume: 21-040
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > SFB 884
Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Classification: JEL: H26 , Z13 , K42 , C9,
Keywords (English): tax complexity , taxpayer uncertainty , tax morale , survey experiments
Abstract: Taxpayers often view tax rules and filing processes as complicated. In this paper I study whether the perceived tax uncertainty among peers leads to a reduction of voluntary tax compliance. I find strong supportive evidence for this hypothesis using a survey experiment for a large representative sample of the German population. Providing randomized information that others are uncertain about how to file their taxable income decreases individual tax morale. This suggests that subjects use negative peer signals as an excuse in order to opt-out of tax compliance. Studying related heterogeneous treatment effects, I find that both older and left-wing subjects are more responsive to tax uncertainty of others. I also show persistent treatment effects among very honest taxpayers in a follow-up survey.

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