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Lundi 16 Février 2015

FY360° | Norms of tax compliance


The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis has highlighted the problem of tax evasion.



This column examines the effect of social norms on tax compliance using the UK poll tax as a natural experiment. Comparing councils where tax evasion spiked more during the poll-tax period to those where it spiked less, there was no systematic difference before the poll-tax period. However, once the poll tax was abolished, tax evasion remained higher in the former group, suggesting that high poll-tax non-compliance created a persistent norm of non-compliance.

The fiscal crises following the global downturn in 2008 have thrown the spotlight on the capacity of some European governments to fund their spending commitments. In Greece, long-run difficulties in getting people to pay their taxes have certainly contributed to its difficulties of creating a sustainable fiscal position. This example raises several questions. Which factors shape tax compliance? To what extent are those factors due to standard economic considerations? Can we learn additional lessons by delving into social motives for compliance?

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