Measuring the Effect of Social Background on Judicial Decision-Making in Tax Cases

25 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Sep 2019

Date Written: July 31, 2018


Judicial decision-making is an important part of the law-making process. The positive research of judicial decision-making is expanding, and its normative significance is undeniable. Even so, judicial decision-making in tax cases has not yet received much empirical attention. This study contributes to the existing literature, empirically evaluating if, and to what extent, non-legal factors affect the outcomes of tax cases. It examines the potential effects of judges’ social backgrounds and adds to the rather small but growing empirical literature on tax litigation. I coded the dependent variable–the judge’s level of acceptance of the taxpayer’s claim, meaning whether the judge sides with the taxpayer and overrules the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) decisions–as an ordinal variable rather than the more common binary coding of the prevailing party. Binary coding can often be arbitrary, resulting in loss of information and misestimation. By allowing for an intermediate category of the prevailing party, in addition to the traditional binary options, the variable transforms to an ordinal measure of the judge’s acceptance level of the taxpayer’s claim. This study finds that in the Israeli setting, judges’ gender, seniority, age at the time of appointment, and age at the time of the decision affect the judges’ decisions and subsequently the law.

Keywords: Judicial decision making, Tax litigation, Empirical Methods, Courts, Israel

JEL Classification: K34, K41, C25

Suggested Citation

Oren-Kolbinger, Orli, Measuring the Effect of Social Background on Judicial Decision-Making in Tax Cases (July 31, 2018). 22 Florida Tax Review 579 (2019). Available at SSRN: or

Orli Oren-Kolbinger (Contact Author)

Villanova University - School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

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