Legitimate authorities and rational taxpayers

An investigation of voluntary compliance and method effects in a survey experiment of income tax evasion

Blaine Robbins, Edgar Kiser

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In order to collect the revenue necessary to fund public goods, a state is often required to both deter tax evasion and encourage voluntary tax compliance on the part of its citizens. While most prior research has focused on explaining tax evasion with standard economic model parameters, there has been growing interest in identifying the determinants of voluntary compliance. We build on this work by proposing a legitimacy-based model of tax compliance that accounts for why some citizens voluntarily comply with their tax obligations and others do not. To test our model, we develop and administer a survey experiment of income tax evasion to a large random sample of undergraduate students. We also investigate the extent to which design-based method effects bias our results, such as order effects, complexity effects, and missing information effects. Substantively, results strongly support the standard economic model of deterrence and weakly support the legitimacy-based model of voluntary compliance. Methodologically, we find no evidence of order effects, weak evidence of complexity effects, and suggestive evidence of missing information effects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)247-301
    Number of pages55
    JournalRationality and Society
    Volume30
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 1 2018

    Fingerprint

    tax evasion
    income tax
    experiment
    taxes
    economic model
    legitimacy
    citizen
    evidence
    deterrence
    random sample
    obligation
    revenue
    determinants
    trend

    Keywords

    • Legitimacy
    • method effects
    • multilevel model
    • standard economic model
    • survey experiment
    • tax evasion

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

    Cite this

    Legitimate authorities and rational taxpayers : An investigation of voluntary compliance and method effects in a survey experiment of income tax evasion. / Robbins, Blaine; Kiser, Edgar.

    In: Rationality and Society, Vol. 30, No. 2, 01.05.2018, p. 247-301.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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