December 20, 2012
Morse: Narrative and Tax Compliance
Some noncompliant taxpayers fall outside the reach of government interactions such withholding, third-party reporting and audit. This paper explores the possibility of influencing such taxpayers using narrative strategies rooted in small group norms. Communications scholarship theorizes that narrative persuades an audience based on its “probability,” or coherence, and “fidelity,” or truthfulness. Narrative about tax compliance could persuasively incorporate prosocial content about government benefits, prosocial content about taxpayer compliance, and/or punishment content. However, taxpayer confidentiality, execution risk, and cost/benefit considerations affect the promise of narrative tax compliance strategies for various groups of target taxpayers.
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