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Regular version of the site

Article

Trust and power as determinants of tax compliance across 44 nations

Journal of Economic Psychology. 2019. Vol. 74. P. 1-15.

The slippery slope framework of tax compliance emphasizes the importance of trust in authorities as a substantial determinant of tax compliance alongside traditional enforcement tools like audits and fines. Using data from an experimental scenario study in 44 nations from five continents (N = 14,509), we find that trust in authorities and power of authorities, as defined in the slippery slope framework, increase tax compliance intentions and mitigate intended tax evasion across societies that differ in economic, sociodemographic, political, and cultural backgrounds. We also show that trust and power foster compliance through different channels: trusted authorities (those perceived as benevolent and enhancing the common good) register the highest voluntary compliance, while powerful authorities (those perceived as effectively controlling evasion) register the highest enforced compliance. In contrast to some previous studies, the results suggest that trust and power are not fully complementary, as indicated by a negative interaction effect. Despite some between-country variations, trust and power are identified as important determinants of tax compliance across all nations. These findings have clear implications for authorities across the globe that need to choose best practices for tax collection.