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To file or not to file? Another dimension of tax compliance - the Eswatini Taxpayers’ survey

Fabrizio Santoro

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2021, vol. 95, issue C

Abstract: Non-filing, the failure to submit a tax declaration, is a widespread phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa and produces detrimental fiscal effects, from impaired revenue mobilisation to inequality. Non-filing has been largely unexplored in the public finance literature, which focusses mosty on active filers. This paper sheds light on the determinants of non-filing, building on neoclassical and behavioural theories, and adds to the methodological discussion on how to measure tax compliance. Focusing on Eswatini, I combine survey data from one thousand entrepreneurs with their tax returns over 2013–2018. I show that economic deterrence, compliance costs and moral factors, such as intrinsic motivation and peer pressure, correlates with filing. I also study how results change when using a self-reported measure of compliance. In terms of policy, results show that the tax authority could improve filing rates by balancing a deterrent and a service-oriented approach, and also by triggering the role of social norms.

Keywords: Tax administration; Tax evasion; Administrative data; Survey data; Tax policy; Tax morale (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2021.101760

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