What Motivates Tax Compliance?

36 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019

Date Written: April 2019


In this paper, I review and assess what we have learned about what motivates individuals to pay – or to not pay – their legally due tax liabilities. I focus on three specific questions. First, what does theory say about what motivates tax compliance? Second, what does the evidence show? Third, how can government use these insights to improve compliance? I conclude with some suggestions – and some predictions – for future research.

Keywords: Behavioural economics, Controlled field experiments, Laboratory experiments, Tax evasion

Suggested Citation

Alm, James, What Motivates Tax Compliance? (April 2019). Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol. 33, Issue 2, pp. 353-388, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3349323 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joes.12272

James Alm (Contact Author)

Tulane University ( email )

United States
5048628344 (Phone)

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