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An Institutional Theory of Tax Non- Compliance in Bulgaria: a Tax Morale Approach

Colin Williams ()

Economic Alternatives, 2020, issue 1, 33-49

Abstract: To explain tax non-compliance, the dominant approach has been to view noncompliance as a rational economic decision taken when the benefits outweigh the costs. However, many remain compliant even when non-compliance is the rational economic decision. The outcome has been the emergence of a new tax morale approach. Grounded in institutional theory, this asserts that formal institutional failings lead to an asymmetry between the laws and regulations of a society’s formal institutions and the beliefs of the population that constitute its informal institutions. The greater is this asymmetry (measured by the level of tax morale), the greater is the prevalence of tax non-compliance. Until now, studies have analysed the tax morale of citizens. This paper evaluates the tax morale of entrepreneurs and identifies the formal institutional failings that lead to lower tax morale among entrepreneurs. Reporting 456 face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, it is revealed not only that the tax morale of entrepreneurs varies by sector and firm size, but also that the formal institutional failings significantly associated with low tax morale include a perceived lack of tax fairness, corruption and political instability. The implications for theory and policy are then discussed.

Keywords: Bulgaria; Entrepreneurship; tax morale; informal economy; tax evasion; shadow economy; institutional theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H26 J46 K42 O17 P37 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Handle: RePEc:nwe:eajour:y:2020:i:1:p:33-49