Emotions in Tax Related Situations Shape Compliance Intentions: A Comparison between Austria and Italy

Alessandra Privitera, Janina Enachescu, Erico Kirchler, Andre Julian Hartmann

Taxpayers experience different emotions in tax related situations such as collecting documents for filing, contacting the tax authorities to get advice, or experiencing an audit. We replicated a study conducted in Austria with a representative sample of self-employed taxpayers from Italy and discuss similarities and differences in the impact of emotions on tax compliance intentions between the two countries. Using scenarios, we described different situations occurring in the process of paying taxes in a between-subjects design. Results show that the scenarios elicit specific emotion patterns. Relevant emotions can be clustered into four groups: positive emotions, anger, fear, and self-blame. Future compliance intentions are higher if experiences with the tax authorities are positive rather than negative. This effect is partly mediated by specific emotions. Especially emotions related to anger and self-blame shape compliance intentions. While anger seems to play a more important role in Austria than in Italy, we see that positive emotions and emotions related to feelings of self-blame have a similar impact in both countries. We conclude that emotional experiences play an important role in tax compliance decisions. Thus, tax authorities need to take into consideration specific emotions elicited by different tax related activities and in interactions with the authorities.

Department of Occupational, Economic and Social Psychology
External organisation(s)
Università degli Studi di Catania, IHS - Institut für Höhere Studien und wissenschaftliche Forschung
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501029 Economic psychology
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