Culture, Coercion, and Compliance
76 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2018
Date Written: September 26, 2018
Scholars of tax behavior, particularly economists and political scientists, have traditionally focused on state coercion and state reciprocity as drivers of tax compliance. Neither state coercion nor state reciprocity, however, sufficiently account for the high rates of tax compliance empirically observed across nations. We argue that coercion and reciprocity matter, but that compliance is largely driven by values and morality. The authors propose that moral imperatives and moral alignment foster tax compliance. To test our hypotheses, we developed and administered a survey experiment of income tax evasion to a large nationally representative random sample of U.S. adults. Results provided weak support for state reciprocity, while strong support was observed for values (both moral imperatives and moral alignment) and state coercion. We review the implications of our findings in the discussion and conclusion, especially as they relate to dual-process models of culture and action.
Keywords: Tax Compliance, State Coercion, State Reciprocity, Values, Survey Experiment
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