State Coercion, Moral Attitudes, and Tax Compliance: Evidence from a National Factorial Survey Experiment of Income Tax Evasion

86 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2018 Last revised: 18 Dec 2019

See all articles by Blaine Robbins

Blaine Robbins

New York University Abu Dhabi

Edgar Kiser

University of Washington

Date Written: December 18, 2019

Abstract

Why do some people comply with their obligation to pay taxes while others do not? Scholars of tax behavior, particularly economists and political scientists, have relied on models of state coercion and state reciprocity to answer this question. Neither state coercion nor state reciprocity, however, sufficiently account for individuals who voluntarily comply with their tax obligations to the state. We offer a third explanation, derived from the new sociology of morality and moral psychology, suggesting that two types of moral attitudes (moral imperatives and moral alignment) affect tax compliance. Using a factorial survey experiment of income tax evasion (failure to report cash payments) and a survey questionnaire administered to a nationally representative random sample of U.S. adults, we provide a systematic test of the three different models of tax compliance. The results yield strong support for moral attitudes (both moral imperatives and moral alignment) and state coercion, but little support for state reciprocity. We review the implications of our findings in the discussion and conclusion.

Keywords: Tax Compliance, State Coercion, State Reciprocity, Moral Attitudes, Factorial Survey Experiment

Suggested Citation

Robbins, Blaine and Kiser, Edgar, State Coercion, Moral Attitudes, and Tax Compliance: Evidence from a National Factorial Survey Experiment of Income Tax Evasion (December 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3264020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3264020

Blaine Robbins (Contact Author)

New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Edgar Kiser

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
35
Abstract Views
446
PlumX Metrics