Attitude–behavior Consistency in Tax Compliance: A Cross-national Comparison

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Are individuals’ attitudes about paying taxes consistent with their behavior? A direct link between attitudes (tax morale) and behavior (tax compliance) has long been assumed, despite an extensive social scientific literature attesting to the generally weak congruence between the two. This study builds on an emerging body of work questioning the link between tax morale and compliance. It innovates with a cross-national experimental research design whose results indicate that populations with high levels of tax morale exhibit higher evasion rates than those with low levels of tax morale; thus, the study finds that individual self-reported tax morale cannot predict actual evasion choices. Methodologically, the paper contributes the first results of a laboratory experiment on taxation in Denmark, comparing them to laboratory findings from Italy; while previous research indicates that these two countries lie at opposite extremes in tax compliance and morale, our findings run contrary to “culturalist” explanations. Our results show that Danes are more likely to evade tax than Italians, and that individuals’ attitudes toward tax do not significantly predict their actual evasion choices. Finally, we show that discrepancies in tax behavior between Italian and Danish subjects are affected by gender and risk aversion.
Are individuals’ attitudes about paying taxes consistent with their behavior? A direct link between attitudes (tax morale) and behavior (tax compliance) has long been assumed, despite an extensive social scientific literature attesting to the generally weak congruence between the two. This study builds on an emerging body of work questioning the link between tax morale and compliance. It innovates with a cross-national experimental research design whose results indicate that populations with high levels of tax morale exhibit higher evasion rates than those with low levels of tax morale; thus, the study finds that individual self-reported tax morale cannot predict actual evasion choices. Methodologically, the paper contributes the first results of a laboratory experiment on taxation in Denmark, comparing them to laboratory findings from Italy; while previous research indicates that these two countries lie at opposite extremes in tax compliance and morale, our findings run contrary to “culturalist” explanations. Our results show that Danes are more likely to evade tax than Italians, and that individuals’ attitudes toward tax do not significantly predict their actual evasion choices. Finally, we show that discrepancies in tax behavior between Italian and Danish subjects are affected by gender and risk aversion.
LanguageEnglish
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Volume156
Pages184-205
Number of pages22
ISSN0167-2681
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 5. November 2018

Keywords

  • Tax compliance
  • Tax morale
  • Cross-national comparison

Cite this

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title = "Attitude–behavior Consistency in Tax Compliance: A Cross-national Comparison",
abstract = "Are individuals’ attitudes about paying taxes consistent with their behavior? A direct link between attitudes (tax morale) and behavior (tax compliance) has long been assumed, despite an extensive social scientific literature attesting to the generally weak congruence between the two. This study builds on an emerging body of work questioning the link between tax morale and compliance. It innovates with a cross-national experimental research design whose results indicate that populations with high levels of tax morale exhibit higher evasion rates than those with low levels of tax morale; thus, the study finds that individual self-reported tax morale cannot predict actual evasion choices. Methodologically, the paper contributes the first results of a laboratory experiment on taxation in Denmark, comparing them to laboratory findings from Italy; while previous research indicates that these two countries lie at opposite extremes in tax compliance and morale, our findings run contrary to “culturalist” explanations. Our results show that Danes are more likely to evade tax than Italians, and that individuals’ attitudes toward tax do not significantly predict their actual evasion choices. Finally, we show that discrepancies in tax behavior between Italian and Danish subjects are affected by gender and risk aversion.",
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Attitude–behavior Consistency in Tax Compliance : A Cross-national Comparison. / Guerra, Alice; Harrington, Brooke.

In: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 156, 12.2018, p. 184-205.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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