Biases in Tax Decisions

Amberger, Harald and Eberhartinger, Eva and Kasper, Matthias (2016) Biases in Tax Decisions. WU International Taxation Research Paper Series, 2016-01. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Universität Wien, Vienna.


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We conduct a series of four laboratory experiments and interviews with senior tax professionals to study biases in tax decisions. In our experiments with 303 students and 62 experienced tax professionals, we find a systematic tax-rate bias in decisions under time constraints. Specifically, decision-makers overestimate the relevance of less complex tax-rate information compared to more complex tax-base information. This behavior leads to suboptimal decision-making. Moreover, we find that decision-making is unaffected by professional experience: students and tax professionals are similarly prone to tax-rate bias. Yet, tax professionals in senior positions are more rationally inattentive. These decision-makers are less likely to exhibit a tax-rate bias when exhibiting such bias is relatively costly. In-depth interviews with senior tax professionals corroborate the external validity of these results. Overall, our findings suggest that resource constraints impede the use of complex information, which results in suboptimal tax decisions.

Item Type: Paper
Additional Information: Editors: Eva Eberhartinger, Michael Lang, Rupert Sausgruber and Martin Zagler (Vienna University of Economics and Business), and Erich Kirchler (University of Vienna)
Keywords: heuristics, decision bias, salience, tax-rate information, rational inattention
Classification Codes: JEL-Classification: C91, D03, H32, K34, M21, M41
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2021 14:15
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2021 14:15


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