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Tax evasion is a pervasive problem in many countries. In particular, some developing countries do not collect even half of what they would if taxpayers complied with the written letter of the law. The academic literature has not been oblivious to the need to explain why people pay (or do not pay) taxes. However, the empirical literature has not yet reached consensus. This paper reports the results of a large field experiment that tried to affect compliance by influencing property tax taxpayers’ beliefs regarding the levels of enforcement, equity, and fairness of the tax system in a municipality in Argentina. Results indicate that the most effective message was one that stated the actual fines and potential legal consequences taxpayers may face in the case of noncompliance (tax compliance increased by more than 4 percentage points). No average effects are found for the treatments designed to affect beliefs about the equity and fairness of the system. However, the evidence also points out that not every taxpayer updates his or her beliefs in the same direction, as relevant heterogeneous effects are found across the population. The evidence in this paper advances the state of knowledge and may help to reconcile some of the different results in the literature.
There is growing evidence that individual responses to public policies are, to a large extent, mediated by the way the policies are framed, by people’s cognitive and computational capabilities, and by people’s subjective beliefs. For example, people may react to price changes but not to complicated schemes that rely on people’s computational abilities. Similarly, people may react better to simple ... (View publication)
There is an ample literature on the determinants of tax compliance. Several field experiments have evaluated the effect and comparative relevance of sending deterrence and moral suasion messages to taxpayers. The effect of different delivery mechanisms, however, has not been evaluated so far. This study conducts a field experiment in Colombia that varies the way the National Tax Agency contac ... (View publication)
This paper aims to provide an overview of the current state of taxation in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, and its main reform needs and options. It previews the findings of recent studies prepared or commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for its forthcoming flagship publication More than Revenue: Taxation as a Development Tool in the -Development in the Americas- ... (View publication)
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