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Columbia Law School

2009

Columbia Law Review

Tax Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Revealing Choices: Using Taxpayer Choice To Target Tax Enforcement, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2009

Revealing Choices: Using Taxpayer Choice To Target Tax Enforcement, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

People pay their taxes for many different reasons. Some choose to game the system, paying only when the cost of noncompliance outweighs its benefits. Others comply out of habit, a sense of duty or reciprocity, a desire to avoid feelings of guilt or shame, and for many other reasons. Our tax enforcement system has ignored this variety of taxpaying motivations for decades. It continues to rely primarily on audits and penalties, at least where information reporting and withholding are impossible. Fines and audits deter those rationally playing the tax compliance game, but are wasteful or even counterproductive when applied to ...