Religion and Informational Influence: Evidence from Individual Tax Behavior in the U.S.
The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 55 (3), pp. 821-846, 2021
52 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2019 Last revised: 27 Jan 2022
Date Written: March 11, 2021
This article seeks to understand whether and how religion plays a role in people’s information search and dissemination behavior in the domain of individual taxes. Survey data show that religious participants exhibit greater uncertainty about a tax filing decision than atheist participants, and Google search data reveal that the U.S. tax season is marked by a notably higher search interest in religious teachings on taxes. Interestingly, people’s tendency to ask “why” questions about taxes and their online search interest in tax loss strategies are greater in states with higher religiosity. In parallel, users from highly versus less religious states include more interrogatives and fewer certainty words in their tax-related tweets posted during the 2019 U.S. federal government shutdown. These findings collectively suggest that people’s certitude about individual tax matters decreases with religiosity.
Keywords: Religion, Taxes, Informational Influence, Information Search, Information Dissemination, Google, Twitter
JEL Classification: H24, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation