‘Paying tax is part of life’: Social influence in tax communications.
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Copyright © 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Reason for embargo
A number of studies on taxpayer interaction, from large-scale surveys to field experiments, reveal that people’s tax compliance attitudes and behaviour change after they discuss tax with other taxpayers. However, we know very little about the content of these communications and the processes by which they produce changes in tax compliance. To address this knowledge gap, we employed an in-depth analysis of naturally-occurring online discussions about income tax among software developers. Using a discourse analytic framework, we report an empirical analysis of 120 online interactions between taxpayers, providing a categorization of these interactions. Interactions ranged from asking for information about tax regulations and receiving such information, to a variety of interactions aimed at persuading defiant individuals to comply with tax laws. These persuasion techniques ranged from stating the benefits of compliance, to threats of severe economic and reputational consequences. Overall, this study is the first in-depth empirical investigation of social influence processes in taxpayer communication. We discuss how the results inform research into social norms and tax compliance, tax communication in social networks, and persuasive messaging in tax compliance campaigns.
HM Revenue & Customs
Available online 17 December 2015