Sunday, April 30, 2017
Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomington) presented To What Extent Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? yesterday at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs Conference on Applied Research in Public Finance:
Tax collectors generally use enforcement methods, such as audits and the imposition of penalties, to deter noncompliance with tax laws. Although this approach is consistent with most economic modeling of tax compliance, some scholars caution that enforcement may backfire, “crowding out” taxpayers’ intrinsic motivations to pay taxes to such an extent that they reduce their tax payments. This article analyzes the existing evidence to determine if and when this occurs. Field studies suggest that enforcement tools, such as audits, are effective deterrents, generally greatly increasing tax collections.
Although evidence is emerging that audits may have a negative effect on the future tax payments of those audited and found compliant, more studies are needed to determine the extent of this effect and whether it exists for truly compliant taxpayers. Overall, however, studies show that audits are highly effective at increasing the tax compliance both of those audited and of other taxpayers.
Discussant: Joseph Cordes (George Washington)