Tax Morale: Framing and Fairness

Authors: Alexander, P., Balavac, M., Mukherjee, S. and Massey, D.

Start date: 3 September 2018

This paper examines to the relationship between the perception of tax fairness and tax morale conditional on the level of financial and tax literacy (FTL).

The findings are based on the survey responses of 627 US or UK citizens in either public or private employment. Using factor analysis, the researchers found that there is a systematic variation of the effect of perceived tax fairness conditional on the FTL. Further, the way in which questions are framed is found to be important. For positively framed tax morale questions, the moderating effect of tax fairness is significantly negative for low levels of FTL candidates and improves with literacy. However, in negatively framed tax morale questions, tax morale is improved as one views that the tax system is fair but the impact is significant for higher levels of literacy. This has further policy implications as the ‘framing’ of tax literature could be instrumental in improving the tax morale of taxpayers.

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