Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre (arqus), Berlin
In this paper, a tax game with audit costs as a public bad is designed to investigate the impact of public disclosure on tax evasion experimentally. Three different types of tax privacy are tested, ranging from complete privacy to full disclosure. We expect to observe two different effects: first, a contagion effect, arising when an individual observes non-compliance of other individuals and therefore reduces his own tax compliance; second, a shame effect of increased tax compliance due to the anticipated shame of being declared a tax evader. We find evidence of increasing tax evasion with reduced tax privacy if information is disclosed anonymously. Our results also indicate that the shame effect is not strong enough to override the contagion effect when both effects are present. Our results are of particular importance for fiscal policy because public disclosure may lead to more evasion instead of less, due to motivational crowding-out of tax morale.
Tax privacy Tax evasion Public bad Social norm Conditional cooperation Economic experiment