Unpacking ‘Tax Morale’: Distinguishing Between Conditional and Unconditional Views of Tax Compliance
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The past decade has witnessed a surge in international interest in the importance of tax morale. This is often defined, broadly, as taxpayer’s ‘non-pecuniary motivations for tax compliance’ (Luttmer and Singhal 2014: 150) – as a key component of strategies for strengthening tax compliance in lower-income countries. Whereas classic models of tax compliance focused on the importance of the threat of enforcement and the cost of compliance in shaping compliance, compliance decisions are also significantly shaped by non-pecuniary motivations. They can, for example, be an intrinsic commitment to paying taxes, expectations of reciprocity from government, or broader social norms. This has been reflected in growing interest in strategies for strengthening tax morale in order to encourage quasi-voluntary tax compliance (Prichard et al. 2019). A significant part of this literature has relied on surveys to measure taxpayer attitudes towards tax compliance (tax morale), and, in turn, to identify factors associated with higher or lower levels of reported tax morale.