Research & Publications
An Investigation of Factors Affecting Taxpayer Compliance Decisions on Ambiguous Issues
1997, Journal of the American Taxation Association
Anne Christensen, Peggy A. Hite
The purpose of this study is to determine if taxpayers' risk perceptions and subsequent reporting decisions are influenced by the type of reporting decision (income or deduction), framing effects (win or lose), and level of certainty (a 33, 55, or 75 percent chance of withstanding an IRS challenge). Over 400 taxpayers completed and returned a mail survey that requested the respondents to decide how they would report either an ambiguous income or an ambiguous deduction item. The results indicate that when taxpayers' risk propensities are considered, taxpayers' risk perceptions differ for ambiguous income and deduction items and their reporting decisions are influenced by those differences. In addition, taxpayers' decisions are influenced by level of certainty but not by framing effects. The respondents indicated a greater willingness to take aggressive positions for an ambiguous deduction than for ambiguous income. They also took significantly more aggressive positions when the level of certainty increased from 33 to 55 percent. There was no significant difference in decisions when the level of certainty increased from 55 to 75 percent.
Christensen, A. and Peggy A. Hite (1997), "An Investigation of Factors Affecting Taxpayer Compliance Decisions on Ambiguous Issues," The Journal of the American Taxation Association, Vol. 19, April, pp. 1-18.