Does better information decrease appeals against appraised tax bases?

Last registered on August 25, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Does better information decrease appeals against appraised tax bases?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006324
Initial registration date
August 25, 2020
Last updated
August 25, 2020, 1:55 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
KU Leuven

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-09-01
End date
2021-10-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The tax base for property taxation in Belgium is based on rental values from 1975. Newly constructed or renovated houses need to be appraised as being built in 1975. To this end, the administration makes use of predetermined valuations based on the characteristics of the house and the location. Due to this method, the appraisal is mainly driven by objective determinants. Taxpayers can file an appeal upon receiving the appraised value. Due to the lack of subjective elements in the appraisal method, these appeal only seem justified when the objective characteristics are wrongfully recorded by the government. By changing the notification letter, which informs the Belgium taxpayers of their new tax base, we, in collaboration with the Belgium government, try to reduce the amount of unjustified appeals.

The main treatment of this experiment alters the lay-out of and the information available on the notification letter. The goal of these changes is to focus the attention on the objective characteristics that determine the tax base. By doing so, we intent to make it clearer based on which characteristics the property is appraised.

Furthermore, we add some extra information in 3 other treatments. (1) We inform the taxpayer about the length of an appeal procedure. By giving the average length of the previous year and the average length of all the available years, we try to create some variation to elicit the effect of this treatment. This will give the taxpayer more information concerning the time cost of going through an appeal procedure. (2) We inform the taxpayers about the percentage of successful appeals by all the appraised houses. (3) We will inform the taxpayers about the estimated tax base of other similar houses in the neighborhood.

An accompanying survey will question the knowledge and attitudes towards the appraised value and the appeal process. This will enable us to evaluate the change in knowledge and attitudes with regard to the appraisals.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Boogaerts, Thomas. 2020. "Does better information decrease appeals against appraised tax bases?." AEA RCT Registry. August 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6324-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-09-01
Intervention End Date
2021-10-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Number of appeals filed.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
A distinction will be made between justified and unjustified appeals.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Knowledge with regards to the tax base.
Perceptions with regards to the appeal procedure.
Reported counter value.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The reported counter value represents the appropriate appraised value according to the taxpayer.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The main treatment of this experiment alters the lay-out of and the information available on the notification letter. The goal of these changes is to focus the attention on the objective characteristics that determine the tax base. By doing so, we intent to make it clearer based on which characteristics the property is appraised.
Furthermore, we add some extra information in 3 other treatments. (1) We inform the taxpayer about the length of an appeal procedure. By giving the average length of the previous year and the average length of all the available years, we try to create some variation to elicit the effect of this treatment. This will give the taxpayer more information concerning the time cost of going through an appeal procedure. (2) We inform the taxpayers about the percentage of successful appeals by all the appraised houses. (3) We will inform the taxpayers about the estimated tax base of other similar houses in the neighborhood.
An accompanying survey will question the knowledge and attitudes towards the appraised value and the appeal process. This will enable us to evaluate the change in knowledge and attitudes with regard to the appraisals.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done based on the last two digits of the ID-number of the citizens, which is by default random.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1
Sample size: planned number of observations
+- 50 000
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
+- 10 000 by treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
SOCIAAL-MAATSCHAPPELIJKE ETHISCHE COMMISSIE (SMEC) KU LEUVEN
IRB Approval Date
2020-08-24
IRB Approval Number
G-2020-2228-R2(MIN)

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