Taxpayers’ Motivations Relating to Tax Compliance: Evidence from Two Representative Samples of Austrian and Dutch Self-Employed Taxpayers

Katharina Gangl, Eva Hofmann, Manon de Groot, Gerrit Antonides, Sjoerd Goslinga, Barbara Hartl, Erich Kirchler


Tax compliance is assumed to be shaped by three main motivations to comply: enforced, voluntary, and committed motivation. Taxpayers, who hold an enforced motivation to comply, only pay taxes because of audits and fines for non-compliance. Voluntary motivated taxpayers respect the law and pay taxes because it is the easiest option. Committed motivation represents an intrinsic motivation, whereby taxpayers feel a moral obligation and responsibility to be honest. However, little and inconsistent empirical research exists on the relationship between motivations and tax compliance. The present paper empirically examines the connection between motivations and reported tax compliance based on data from two representative samples of 500 self-employed Austrian taxpayers and 1,377 Dutch entrepreneurs. Results show that an enforced motivation is negatively related to tax compliance, whereas a committed motivation is positively related to compliance. Contrary to expectations, voluntary motivation is not related to tax compliance. Based on the present outcomes it is suggested that tax authorities should present themselves as legitimate and benevolent in order to decrease enforced motivations and to foster committed motivations and subsequent high tax compliance.

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