Direct and Spillover Effects of a Paperless Billing Randomized Communication Campaign

Last registered on October 08, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Direct and Spillover Effects of a Paperless Billing Randomized Communication Campaign
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006569
Initial registration date
October 07, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 08, 2020, 7:33 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Nottingham

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Barbara
PI Affiliation
University of Nottingham

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2020-09-01
End date
2021-07-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This project explores the direct and network effects of communication messages on tax compliance and paperless billing sign-up. We conduct a randomized communication campaign in a large municipality of Argentina where neighbors are required to pay a monthly fee on their real estate, locally known as Tasa por Servicios Generales (TSG), which accounts for most of the local own revenues in Argentine municipalities. The municipality where the experiment takes place has recently enabled a paperless billing option for taxpayers to receive their monthly bill by e-mail in lieu of the regular paper bill. Our campaign consists of sending letters to randomly selected dwellings where we remind neighbors about the paperless option, how to sign up, and we also include information about the status of the account, due dates, past due debt, etc. Our goal is to study the effects on monthly payments and the sign-up to digital billing, and also to analyze whether the campaign creates spillover effects on neighbors that live nearby but that do not receive a letter.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Cruces, Guillermo, Dario Tortarolo and Gonzalo Vazquez-Bare. 2020. "Direct and Spillover Effects of a Paperless Billing Randomized Communication Campaign." AEA RCT Registry. October 08. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6569
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
This project explores the direct and network effects of communication messages on tax compliance and paperless billing sign-up. We conduct a randomized communication campaign in a large municipality of Argentina where neighbors are required to pay a monthly fee on their real estate, locally known as Tasa por Servicios Generales (TSG), which accounts for most of the local own revenues in Argentine municipalities. The municipality where the experiment takes place has recently enabled a paperless billing option for taxpayers to receive their monthly bill by e-mail in lieu of the regular paper bill. Our campaign consists of sending letters to randomly selected dwellings where we remind neighbors about the paperless option, how to sign up, and we also include information about the status of the account, due dates, past due debt, etc. Our goal is to study the effects on monthly payments and the sign-up to digital billing, and also to analyze whether the campaign creates spillover effects on neighbors that live nearby but that do not receive a letter.
Intervention Start Date
2020-09-28
Intervention End Date
2020-10-07

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Indicator for whether neighbors sign up to the paperless billing option; Monthly fee payments (intensive and extensive margins); delinquency indicator; overdue days
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We will run balance check OLS regressions to confirm the comparability of treatment and control groups. We will use a dependent variables account holder characteristics and dwelling characteristics listed in Section 2 of the pre-analysis PDF attached to this form.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment was run on the universe of residential dwellings present in the municipality in 2020. Randomization took place in two stages (first at the block level and then at the account level). In the first stage, we randomly assigned blocks to four groups with different intensity of treatment: pure control blocks where no accounts are notified, blocks with 20% of the accounts treated, blocks with 50% of the accounts treated, and blocks with 80% of the accounts treated. In the second stage, we randomly selected accounts within the last three groups of blocks to receive the treatment letter.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in office by a computer using Stata software and baseline data from 2019
Randomization Unit
Randomization took place in two stages: first at the block level and then at the account (dwelling) level. In the first level, we randomly assigned blocks to four groups with different intensity of treatment: pure control blocks where no accounts are notified, blocks with 20% of the accounts treated, blocks with 50% of the accounts treated, and blocks with 80% of the accounts treated. In the second stage, we randomly selected accounts within the last three groups of blocks to receive the treatment letter.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
3,982 blocks (cuadras)
Sample size: planned number of observations
68,808 accounts (cuentas)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,102 blocks with no treated accounts (19,105 accounts)
1,100 blocks with 20% treated accounts (C = 15,060 accounts, T = 3,853 accounts)
680 blocks with 50% treated accounts (C = 5,905 accounts, T = 5,897 accounts)
1,100 blocks with 80% treated accounts (C = 3,677 accounts, T = 15,311 accounts)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The power calculations give a minimum detectable effect between 2.6 and 3.3 percentage points (see details in the attached document).
Supporting Documents and Materials

Documents

Document Name
IRB approval
Document Type
irb_protocol
Document Description
This document shows proof of approval from the IRB committee
File
IRB approval

MD5: 1fabff0701e9cc2e82b98cbfe87ed8ac

SHA1: 6ea8e81da0be925c1c0a600aba93069dec3459d4

Uploaded At: October 07, 2020

Document Name
IRB application form
Document Type
irb_protocol
Document Description
This document is the IRB application form
File
IRB application form

MD5: 5ff346e5d1b62e1c7b3cc3d0012a03e8

SHA1: 4cdc47dc106c0680341f04a92d96f3aba1b49ea0

Uploaded At: October 07, 2020

IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Nottingham School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2020-09-24
IRB Approval Number
N/A
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

PAP direct and spillover effects

MD5: c9c48d899d356b922dc200c42724573a

SHA1: b36ded48536c1bcbf75cb30591f51aa3444161de

Uploaded At: October 07, 2020

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