The Impact of Social Pressure on Tax Compliance: a Field Experiment

We study the effect of social pressure on tax compliance, focusing on the compliance of shop sellers to the legal obligation of releasing tax receipts for each sale. We carry out a field experiment on bakeries in Italy, where a strong gap exists between the legal obligation and the actual behavior of sellers. Social pressure is manipulated by means of an explicit request for a receipt when not released. We employ an innovative approach to the identification of the treatment effect. We find that a single request for a receipt causes a 17 per cent rise in the probability of a receipt being released for a sale occurring shortly thereafter, causing on average more than two receipts to be released. We also find strong evidence of persistence in compliance decisions.

Authors

  • Pietro Battiston
  • Simona Gamba

Details

Publication number: Working Paper 2016-04
Date: 2/2016
JEL Classification: C93, H32, K34
  • Tax evasion,
  • Field experiment,
  • Peer pressure,
  • Social pressure