Tax Compliance and the Reformed IRS

41 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2003

See all articles by Leandra Lederman

Leandra Lederman

Indiana University Maurer School of Law


The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 directed the IRS to transform itself into an agency focused on "customers." What affect will such a focus on service have on compliance? This article analyzes not only the post-IRS reform statistics on enforced compliance but also considers the more important question of the likely impact of IRS friendliness on so-called "voluntary compliance."

Although some have suggested that a kinder IRS might prompt increased voluntary compliance, this article argues that it likely will not, based on the literature examining the impact on voluntary compliance of tax collector service to taxpayers and the use of a softer tone in correspondence with taxpayers. By contrast, the literature reflects the possibility that the perception of procedural fairness on the part of the IRS might increase compliance. This suggests that the IRS can benefit from treating taxpayers fairly but that it would be unwise for the IRS to focus on service at the expense of enforcement. (A related paper considers the interplay between norms and enforcement in tax compliance.)

Keywords: Taxation Subsidies and Revenue, Tax Evasion, Fiscal Policies for Law and Economics, Tax Law, Legal Procedure

JEL Classification: H26, H3, K34, K42

Suggested Citation

Lederman, Leandra, Tax Compliance and the Reformed IRS. George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-13; U of Texas, Public Law Research Paper No. 50, Available at SSRN: or

Leandra Lederman (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
(812) 855-6149 (Phone)
(812) 855-0555 (Fax)


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