Experimental Design Details
In the pre-treatment part we will ask about two types of taxes arising from salaries of Russian workers. First, it is the highly visible 13% income tax. Second, these are (generally tax-like) social insurance payments that usually amount to 30% of the nominal salary, and are paid by the employer. There will also be a question on the amount of the 20% value added tax that is paid from the sales of all finished goods and services. There will be questions on the experience of filing tax returns and whether one visited a tax office during the past year. We will also ask several questions to determine whether the individual's employer qualifies for reduced social security payments. In addition, we will ask if the primary source of Russia's state budget is oil/gas revenue or taxes on individuals and enterprises; this latter question measures the individual's belief about the relationship between taxes paid by individuals and firms on one hand, and government spending on the other.
Sample treatment video text: ``All Russians pay taxes. Consider a Russian with a monthly salary of 70000 Roubles --- the same amount as you indicated in the questionnaire. After subtracting the income tax, the worker is left with a net income of 60900 Roubles, while the income tax is 9100 Roubles. [This is almost one seventh of the worker's net income./However, the amount of taxes paid from one's salary is much larger. As a rule, the employer pays the state at least 21000 Roubles as social insurance. This is largely a tax on the income. As a result, the government takes in a total of 30100 Roubles. This is almost one half of the worker's net income.] The government expenses are financed by [this/these] and other taxes.''
Perception of tax burden: ``With which of the statements below do you agree? You and your family members are paying too many taxes/In Russia, taxes are lower than in most European countries.''
Redistribution preferences: Taxing the rich. ``With which of the statements below do you agree? [Russia needs a progressive tax system, where people who earn more should pay a larger share of their income in taxes/The taxes paid by the well-off Russians should be higher]''
Redistribution preferences: Helping the poor: ``Some people believe that the government has numerous obligations to its citizens. According to others, government resources are limited. Please tell me, how much do you agree or disagree the government should [Provide a decent standard of living for the unemployed/Provide housing to all everyone who needs it/ Provide financial help to the poor]''; ``Currently, an idea to introduce food stamps for low-income citizens is under discussion. The people in need will have a special card with which they will receive points from the federal budget to buy specific foodstuffs. These points will not be used to buy alcohol, cigarettes or other harmful products. Do you think such cards should be introduced? Definitely yes/Maybe yes/Maybe not/Definitely not.''
Redistribution preferences: Inequality beliefs. ``With which of the statements below do you agree? Income differences between rich and poor Russians are too large and should be smaller than they are now.''
Redistribution preferences: Altruism. ``Imagine you unexpectedly received 30000 Roubles. How much of that sum would you donate to
Redistribution preferences: The minimum wage. ``The minimum wage is the legally defined minimum amount one can receive in a month. In most of Russian regions it is equal to the nationally defined minimum of 12792 Roubles per month. What do you think the national minimum monthly wage should be? Less than 12792 Roubles per month/It should be kept at the current level/From 12793 to 15000 Roubles/From 15001 to 20000 Roubles/From 20001 to 25000 Roubles/From 25001 to 30000/From 35001 to 40000 Roubles/From 45001 to 50000 Roubles/Over 50000 Roubles''
Future plans: Charity. ``Please tell us whether or not in the future you intend to [take part in any charitable activity/do volunteer work (meaning unpaid work, such as in crisis centers, hospitals, nursing homes, social services]: Definitely yes/ Rather yes/ Rather no/ Definitely no''
Views on government spending. ``With which of the statements below do you agree? Russian government spending is too high''; ``The Russian state budget is limited. There is always an argument on whether specific government needs should receive more or less funding. In your opinion, which of the following budget categories receive too little funding, too much funding, or the right amount of funding? National defense/Social assistance, including pensions and various social transfers/Health care/Education/Security organs, law enforcement and interior forces/Public utilities/Road infrastructure and public transportation]: Too little/Too much/The right amount.''
Views on government and satisfaction with the provision of public goods. ``How much do you trust [President of Russia/Russian government/your regional government]: Completely trust/Somewhat trust/Somewhat distrust/Completely distrust''; ``Please tell me whether you are satisfied with [Quality of communal utilities (heating, water supply, maintenance of your building) supplied in your place of residence/ Quality of roads in our country/ Quality of public transport in our country/ Health care system in our country/ The work of law enforcement in our country/ The work of courts in our country/ Education system in our country]: Definitely yes/ Rather yes/ Rather no/ Definitely no''; ``Do you believe that in today's Russia money from the state budget is spend generally in the right or wrong way? Right/Wrong''
Perceived role of luck. ``Where would you place your opinion on this scale? 1 - Hard work leads to a better life/2/3/4/5 - Hard work doesn't generally bring success - it's more a matter of luck and connections.''
Interpersonal utility comparison. ``With which of the statements below do you agree? You are earning more than the majority of Russians.''
Future plans: Political action. ``Please tell us whether or not in the future you intend to [sign petitions/file complaints about unsatisfactory work of city or municipal authorities/vote in elections of any level/participate in the meetings of homeowners associations/make donations to political parties, projects or organizations]: Definitely yes/ Rather yes/ Rather no/ Definitely no''
Future plans: Economic action. ``Please tell us whether or not in the future you intend to [open my own business, become an entrepreneur /change my place of employment/work more than I do today/work less than I do today/seek employment abroad]: Definitely yes/ Rather yes/ Rather no/ Definitely no''
Future plans: ``Please tell us whether or not in the future you intend to get a Covid vaccine''
The follow-up survey will include the tax knowledge questions; Interpersonal utility comparison; trust toward government institutions; views on government spending; redistribution preferences except altruism; future plans: work more/less, take part in homeowners meeting, donate to political parties, get a Covid vaccine
Hypothesis 1: Manipulation check. The treatment adjusts upward the beliefs about one's tax burden. Individuals in the treatment group to be more aware of the taxes that they are paying - hence, they will be more likely to say that the taxes they are paying are too high, and less likely to say that the Russian tax burden is lower than in most European countries.
Hypothesis 2: Government efficiency. Higher tax awareness is associated with a lower level of satisfaction with the provision of public goods, the belief that the government is less efficient, and lower approval of government institutions.
Hypothesis 3: Pro-redistribution views. Higher tax awareness to be associated with less pro-redistribution views and more negative attitudes toward government spending.
We expect the magnitude of the treatment effect to depend on several variables.
Hypothesis 4a: Moderation by political views. The effect of tax awareness and information treatment will be stronger in individuals who believe that the country is going the wrong way.
Hypothesis 4b: Moderation by cognitive style. The effect of tax awareness and information treatment will be stronger in individuals with more analytical cognitive style, and weaker in individuals with more intuitive style.
Hypothesis 4c: Moderation by prior beliefs. The effect of information treatment will be stronger in individuals who held lower prior beliefs about the amount of taxes that are accrued from a salary.
Hypothesis 4d: Moderation by anti-intellectualism. The effect of information treatment will be weaker in individuals who distrust experts and have stronger anti-elite attitudes
We will then explore the channels through which information about the tax burden affects the preferences for redistribution.
Hypothesis 5a: Mediation by state efficiency. We expect that the effect of the treatment on pro-redistribution views is mediated by the government efficiency beliefs.
Hypothesis 5b: Mediation by interpersonal utility comparison. The effect of the treatment on pro-redistribution views is mediated by the the belief that the individual is earning more that the majority of Russians.
Hypothesis 5c: Mediation by perceived role of luck. The effect of the treatment on pro-redistribution views is mediated by the the belief that one can get ahead in life by luck rather than hard work.
Hypothesis 6: Civic and political participation. Higher tax awareness is associated with greater intention to vote and participate in civic initiatives.
Hypothesis 6a: Civic and political participation. The effect of tax awareness on civic and political participation is mediated by the beliefs about government efficiency.