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Motivation or rationalisation? Causal relations between ethics, norms and tax compliance

CollectionsANU Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI)
Title: Motivation or rationalisation? Causal relations between ethics, norms and tax compliance
Author(s): Wenzel, Michael
Australian National University. Centre for Tax System Integrity
Australian Taxation Office
Publisher: Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI), Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Australian Taxation Office
Series/Report no.: Working paper (Centre for Tax System Integrity) ; no. 63
This study investigated whether tax ethics and social norms constitute true motivations for tax compliance, or whether they are mere rationalisations of selfinterested behaviour. Cross-lagged panel analyses were applied to data from a twowave survey with 1161 Australian citizens. First, results showed that tax ethics causally affected tax compliance and were affected by levels of compliance. Second, perceived social norms causally affected personally held tax ethics, but only for respondents who identified strongly with the respective group. At the same time, personal ethics were also projected onto the perceived normative beliefs of the social group. Third, perceived norms causally affected tax compliance, partly mediated by their effect on personal ethics. Conversely, tax compliance also affected the perception of norms. Overall, the study provides evidence for a complex role of individual ethics and social norms in taxpaying behaviour.
ISBN: 0 642 76863 3
ISSN: 1444-8211


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