Is Tax Compliance a Social Norm? A Field Experiment

29 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2013 Last revised: 21 Jul 2013

See all articles by Pietro Battiston

Pietro Battiston

University of Pisa - Department of Economics and Management

Simona Gamba

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Department of Economics and Finance

Date Written: June 1, 2013

Abstract

We study the effect of social pressure on tax compliance, focusing on the compliance of shop sellers to the legal obligation of releasing tax receipts for each sale. We carry out a field experiment on bakeries in Italy, where a strong gap exists between the legal obligation and the actual behavior of sellers. Social pressure is manipulated by means of an explicit request for a receipt when not released. We find that a single request for a receipt causes a 17 per cent rise in the probability of a receipt being released for a sale occurring shortly thereafter. This provides evidence of a social fiscal multiplier: on average, a single request for a receipt causes 2.38 additional receipts being released overall.

Keywords: Tax evasion, field experiements, social norms, social pressure

JEL Classification: H32, K34, E62

Suggested Citation

Battiston, Pietro and Gamba, Simona, Is Tax Compliance a Social Norm? A Field Experiment (June 1, 2013). University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 249, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2294384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2294384

Pietro Battiston (Contact Author)

University of Pisa - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Pisa
Italy

Simona Gamba

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Via Necchi 5
Milan, MI 20123
Italy

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