The Poor and Tax Compliance: One Size Does Not Fit All

52 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2003

See all articles by Leslie Book

Leslie Book

Villanova University School of Law


This article examines the scope of the low income taxpayers' compliance problem. It also reveals why in a period of remarkably low levels of government tax compliance activity, the IRS compliance effort toward lower-income taxpayers has been particularly vigorous. The article examines in greater detail noncompliance with respect to the earned income tax credit, and, building on the work of sociologists Robert Kidder and Craig McEwen, explores the likely causes of the high levels of noncompliance. The article examines some of the policy implications of noncompliance among lower-income taxpayers. In particular, it argues that the government is not vigilant enough to root out intentional abuse. The government dedicated few resources on the ground to identifying purposeful taxpayer abuse. IRS reform and budgetary pressures resulted in remote correspondence-based compliance initiatives staffed by low-level IRS employees. At the same time, the positive assistance that Congress and the IRS have put in place are not sufficiently targeted to lower-income taxpayers, nor are they appropriately balanced with the IRS's traditional deterrence measures.

Keywords: tax compliance, low income taxpayers, IRS reform, tax law, tax policy, administrative law

Suggested Citation

Book, Leslie, The Poor and Tax Compliance: One Size Does Not Fit All. Kansas Law Review, Vol. 51, p. 1145, 2003 , Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2003-8, Available at SSRN: or

Leslie Book (Contact Author)

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics