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Does voting on tax fund destination imply a direct democracy effect?

Abstract : Does giving taxpayers a voice over the destination of tax revenues lead to more honest income declarations? Previous experiments have shown that giving participants the opportunity to select the organization that receives their tax funds tends to increase tax compliance. The aim of this paper is to assess whether this increase in compliance is induced by the sole fact of giving subjects a choice—a “direct democracy effect”. To that aim, we ask participants to a tax evasion game to choose, in a collective or individual choice setting, between two very similar organizations which provide the same social (ecological) benefits. We elicit compliance for both organizations before the choice is made so as to control for the counter-factual compliance decision. We find that democracy does not increase compliance, and even observe a slight negative effect—in particular for women. Our results confirm the existence of a commitment effect of democracy, leading to favor more the selected organization when it was actively chosen. The commitment effect of democracy is however not enough to overcome the decrease in the level of compliance. Thanks to response times data, we show that prior choice on similar options as compared to a purely random selection weakens the preference for honesty. One important field application of our results is that democracy in tax spending must offer real choices to tax payers to improve compliance.
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Contributor : Nicolas Jacquemet Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, July 3, 2021 - 8:28:27 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 29, 2022 - 10:13:05 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, October 4, 2021 - 6:02:36 PM


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Nicolas Jacquemet, Stéphane Luchini, Antoine Malézieux. Does voting on tax fund destination imply a direct democracy effect?. International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, 2021, 67, pp.106003. ⟨10.1016/j.irle.2021.106003⟩. ⟨halshs-03277339⟩



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