Do Normative Appeals Affect Tax Compliance? Evidence from a Controlled Experiment in Minnesota

Posted: 29 May 2001  

Marsha Blumenthal

University of St. Thomas - Department of Economics

Charles W. Christian

Arizona State University

Joel B. Slemrod

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This paper explores one part of a 1994 Minnesota Department of Revenue field experiment designed to study the effectiveness of alternative enforcement strategies. Two letters containing different normative appeals were sent to two large groups of taxpayers; a control group received no letter. The impact of the letters on voluntary compliance is measured by comparing the change (for tax years 1994-93) in reported income and in taxes paid for treated versus control taxpayers (a difference-in-difference approach). We find little evidence of an overall treatment effect. However, the letters do appear to impact the compliance behavior of some groups of taxpayers.

Suggested Citation

Blumenthal, Marsha and Christian, Charles W. and Slemrod, Joel B., Do Normative Appeals Affect Tax Compliance? Evidence from a Controlled Experiment in Minnesota. National Tax Journal, Vol. 54, No. 1, March 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=269235

Marsha Blumenthal (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - Department of Economics ( email )

St. Paul, MN 55105
United States

Charles W. Christian

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3606
United States
480-820-7016 (Phone)

Joel B. Slemrod

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Room R5396
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States
734-936-3914 (Phone)
734-763-4032 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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