Does providing information on government spending alter taxpayer beliefs and compliance? Evidence from a large-scale field trial in Belgium

Last registered on April 18, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Does providing information on government spending alter taxpayer beliefs and compliance? Evidence from a large-scale field trial in Belgium
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002196
Initial registration date
April 30, 2017
Last updated
April 18, 2018, 3:22 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Oxford

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Warwick
PI Affiliation
University of Warwick
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2017-05-01
End date
2017-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This field trial explores the potential impact of introducing a pie-chart with relative spending across the major categories of public goods and services at the beginning of the tax reporting process. This experiment is run on the universe of taxpayers who file their taxes online in Belgium. Randomization happens by way of the last two digits of the national identity number. The treatment group is divided into four sub-groups that test for the additional impact of introducing a social norm message, a loss-aversion frame to the provision of public goods and tax compliance, and making penalties for non-compliance explicit. To measure compliance we consider reported taxable income and itemized tax deductions. Taxpayers are also invited to respond to a survey at the end of the tax reporting process that gauges (1) taxpayer satisfaction; (2) taxpayer appreciation of public goods and services; (3) tax fairness; (4) tax morale; (5) belief about own understanding of tax spending categories; (6) detailed beliefs about actual tax spending categories; and their (7) tax spending preferences by way of a priority ranking of spending categories. Heterogeneity analyses using the survey responses are limited to gender, year of birth, and the type of information treatment that was received. Individuals in the control group only get to see the information pie-chart after having been invited to respond to the survey. This design allows us to explore the impact of the information treatment on taxpayer beliefs as well as potential mechanisms in case the information treatment has an effect on tax compliance. This experiment ties in with a previously registered trial that tested for the impact of introducing nudges in the context of reminder letters for late filing as well as late tax payments.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel et al. 2018. "Does providing information on government spending alter taxpayer beliefs and compliance? Evidence from a large-scale field trial in Belgium." AEA RCT Registry. April 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2196-2.0
Former Citation
De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel et al. 2018. "Does providing information on government spending alter taxpayer beliefs and compliance? Evidence from a large-scale field trial in Belgium." AEA RCT Registry. April 18. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2196/history/28501
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2017-05-01
Intervention End Date
2017-09-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
To measure compliance we consider reported taxable income and itemized tax deductions. To measure taxpayer beliefs we survey (1) taxpayer satisfaction; (2) taxpayer appreciation of public goods and services; (3) tax fairness; (4) tax morale; (5) belief about own understanding of tax spending categories; (6) detailed beliefs about actual tax spending categories; and their (7) tax spending preferences by way of a priority ranking of spending categories.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This trial explores the potential impact of introducing a pie-chart with relative spending across the major categories of public goods and services at the beginning of the tax reporting process. The treatment group is divided into four sub-groups that test for the additional impact of introducing a social norm message, a loss-aversion frame to the provision of public goods and tax compliance, and making penalties for non-compliance explicit.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization happens by way of the last two digits of the national identity number.
Randomization Unit
Tax compliance is measured at the individual level. Tax beliefs are measured at the level of the treatment as well as by age and gender.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
100
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 4 million individual taxpayers who file taxes online.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approx. 2 million individuals in control group
Approx. 500,000 individuals per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-Analysis Plan

MD5: 80df0f27801efc823020818d8d8f101d

SHA1: 51769c7e82d0cee4f51b7560cab9b3cec49ba38c

Uploaded At: April 18, 2018

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials