Carrots, Sticks, or Simplicity? Field Evidence on What Makes People Pay TV Fees
53 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 22, 2021
We provide evidence on both innovative as well as known behavioral strategies aimed at improving tax compliance, using a unified environment of two large correspondence experiments (N=82,599 and N=51,142) with potential TV-fees evaders in the Czech Republic. We (i) simplify the original letter and add a QR code for easier registration; use two innovative text strategies aimed at (ii) the elicitation of preference for fee designation, and (iii) the explanation of fee purpose. We also employ strategies known in the literature but providing mixed results: highlighting (iv) legal consequences of non-compliance, (v) value of services for the fee, and (vi) social norms. Apart from the text treatments, we modify the envelopes by placing there (vii) a picture of a cartoon character (supported by a sticker inside), or (viii) a red inscription “Important”, with the aim to stimulate recipients' reciprocity and attention. Our results show that the text simplification and highlighting legal consequences substantially improve effectiveness of the letter, which we self-replicate on a new sample two years later, while the remaining treatments do not improve over the baseline. The QR code brings only a modest improvement.
Keywords: tax compliance; natural experiment; deterrence; simplicity; QR code
JEL Classification: C91, C93, D02, H24, H26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation