Less Cheating? The Effects of Prefilled Forms on Compliance Behavior

48 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018

See all articles by Martin Fochmann

Martin Fochmann

Free University of Berlin; University of Cologne

Nadja Müller

University of Cologne

Michael Overesch

Universität zu Köln

Date Written: July 2, 2018

Abstract

As a consequence of the digital transformation, individuals are often confronted with prefilled forms or prefilled data entry masks. In situations where cheating and lying are of concern, prefilling and defaults might reduce dishonest behavior. In a controlled experiment, we investigate how correctly and incorrectly prefilled forms influence compliance behavior. We frame our experiment as filing the annual income tax return. We show that correct prefilling enhances compliance. However, in cases of incorrect prefilling, we observe asymmetric effects. If prefilled income is lower than true income, we find no positive compliance effect, and compliance is on the same level as with blank forms. If prefilled income is higher than true income, prefilling still has a positive effect on compliance. In that case, compliance is on the same level as with correctly prefilled forms and higher than with blank forms. Our study contributes to the literature on cheating and lying by showing that prefilled forms and defaults affect compliance by changing the moral costs of dishonest behavior.

Keywords: Dishonesty, Defaults, Prefilled Forms, Tax Compliance, Behavioral Economics

JEL Classification: C91, D14, H26

Suggested Citation

Fochmann, Martin and Müller, Nadja and Overesch, Michael, Less Cheating? The Effects of Prefilled Forms on Compliance Behavior (July 2, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3206410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3206410

Martin Fochmann (Contact Author)

Free University of Berlin ( email )

Thielallee 73
Accounting and Taxation
Berlin, 14195
Germany

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Behavioral Accounting/Taxation/Finance
Cologne, 50923
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.taxation.uni-koeln.de/de/team/prof-dr-martin-fochmann/

Nadja Müller

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

Michael Overesch

Universität zu Köln ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
WiSo-Gebäude
Cologne, 50923
Germany
0221/470-5605 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.steuer.uni-koeln.de/

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
92
Abstract Views
431
rank
279,590
PlumX Metrics