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Tax evasion, dishonesty and altruism

21st National Competition for Economic Research Grants (2022)

Applied Economics

Senior Researcher : Nuria Rodríguez Priego

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.



Tax fraud is a serious damage to the economic order and, in addition, violates the constitutional principles defended in article 31 of the Spanish Constitution for the support of social services and public charges generated by the so-called Welfare State. In this context, tax evasion is considered a form of dishonesty on the part of economic agents. The standard approach to the economics of crime explains the decision to evade as a result of a comparison between the expected benefit and the cost of being dishonest. However, recent studies have provided some evidence of dishonesty or guilt aversion. In this sense, we study the aversion to dishonesty and its relationship with tax evasion in the framework of mental accounting.

In a second stage, we are interested in knowing the effect that the nature of the declared income may have on the levels of tax evasion. Although the Tax Evasion Games show different methods regarding the initial endowment of incentives, in this project we intend to analyze whether tax evasion decision-making is affected by the source from which said endowment comes.

Third, the experimental literature on altruism has spawned a multitude of scientific articles on dictator and ultimatum games. Economic theory predicts that the subjects in the dictator role would keep the entire initial allocation, sending zero currency units to the other player. However, this is not the case. As for the variables that explain this deviation with respect to the predictions of economic theory, altruism, property rights, nature of the transfer and other sociodemographic variables are usually pointed to. In this proposal we consider different purposes regarding the money that can be transferred before making the decision to evade or not.

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