How do firms form preferences on tax policy?
Last registered on February 16, 2021


Trial Information
General Information
How do firms form preferences on tax policy?
Initial registration date
July 04, 2020
Last updated
February 16, 2021 6:22 AM EST
Primary Investigator
University of Mannheim
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study attitudes of firm-decision makers towards taxes using unique large-scale survey experiments representative for Germany. Starting from the hypothesis that businesses desire to lower taxes, we test how attitudes towards a 130 billion Euro fiscal stimulus and desired tax rates change, when subjects are confronted with two treatments highlighting social responsibility, fiscal responsibility, compared to a control group. We find that highlighting fiscal responsibility increases opposition against the state intervention and that the desire to reduce taxes diminishes but find no such effect when highlighting social responsibility. Firm-decision makers want to reduce taxes their firm has to pay stronger compared to taxes their firm does not have to pay. Managers are more willing to pay higher taxes, when agreeing with the fiscal stimulus. The harder the firm was hit by the Covid-19 crisis, the stronger the desire to lower taxes.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Rostam-Afschar, Davud. 2021. "How do firms form preferences on tax policy?." AEA RCT Registry. February 16.
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Experimental Details
We randomly assign firms to three treatments in our survey with the objective to induce variation in the two outcome variables attitudes towards the fiscal stimulus package and desired tax rates. The different treatments with regard to fiscal stimulus package are described in more detail.

The first group of firms receives an treatment that we label Fiscal Responsibility (FISCAL). This treatment includes a screen stating that the 130 billion Euro fiscal stimulus could make tax increase or spending cuts necessary. Moreover, we highlight that many countries in financial crisis 2008/9 increased taxes to make this issue more salient to the respondents. We also cite representatives of one of the government parties in Germany, the CDU, who announced to repay debts by 2030, to make the possibility of tax increases or spending cuts more credible. The FISCAL treatment therefore mainly stresses the fiscal consequences of the state intervention and makes firm decision-makers more aware of the long-term implication of the stimulus package, i.e. that distributed fiscal aid for the firms must be paid back via higher taxes.

The second group of firms has also been made aware of the 130 billion Euro fiscal stimulus, however, we emphasize that many firms are in distress through no fault of their own, citing the example of the hotel and restaurant industry losing 75.8% of revenues and that the fiscal stimulus package is designed to help them. We refer to this treatment as Social Responsibility (SOCIAL) treatment. In contrast to the FISCAL treatment, the SOCIAL treatment alludes to fairness considerations and highlight that the stimulus package was primarily intended to help firms in need.

Finally, we assigned firms to a control group (CONTROL) that did not receive any text. We asked for the attitude towards the fiscal stimulus on the same screen, showing the treatment texts for the FISCAL and SOCIAL group. For the CONTROL group, we only asked for the attitude towards the fiscal stimulus package without further text. For all 3 different groups (FISCAL, SOCIAL, CONTROL), we asked for the desired tax rates after the treatments were given and the attitude question was asked on a separate screen.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Attitude Towards the Fiscal Stimulus and Desired Tax Rates
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Our outcome variables are elicited through survey answers that follow the randomized survey experiment
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
See also "Interventions" described above.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is implemented via the survey software Qualtrics
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The Treatments are not clustered. See below for the number of observed firms.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We approach approximately 300,000 firms and invite them to participate in our survey. We expect a response rate between 0.5 an 5%.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Even distribution of observations across the four treatment arms, respectively.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
October 31, 2020, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
October 31, 2020, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
3,036 Fiscal Responsibility Treatment, 3,041Social Responsibility Treatment, 3,046 Control Group, 3,045 extra Treatment Fiscal Responsibility (No question on opinion about fiscal stimulus)
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)