We study the impact of media bias on tax compliance. Through a framed laboratory experiment, we assess how the exposure to biased news about government action affects compliance in a repeated taxation game. Subjects treated with positive news are significantly more compliant than the control group. The exposure to negative news, instead, does not prompt any significant reaction in respect to the neutral condition, suggesting that participants perceive the media negativity bias in the selection and tonality of news as the norm rather than the exception. Overall, our results suggest that biased news act as a constant source of psychological priming and play a vital role in taxpayers' compliance decisions.
The experimental tax and regulatory compliance literature has shown the effectiveness of competitive audit selection mechanisms (ASMs) based on declarations and a signal of the taxpayers' actual income. However, collecting information about actual income prior to audit selection is costly. In this article, we test the effectiveness of an endogenous ASM based solely on declared income. We show theoretically and in a laboratory experiment that this new endogenous ASM significantly increases compliance in comparison with an ASM where all taxpayers face audit with equal probability. However, a further consequence of conditioning solely on declared income is that poorer taxpayers are audited more frequently, reducing the effectiveness of this ASM in generating revenue and reducing inequality. We further compare the new mechanism with an ASM that also uses a noisy signal of actual income and show that it is a significant improvement over the other two ASMs in terms of compliance, revenue, and inequality. Our results suggest that ASMs that condition only on reported income can increase compliance but should be implemented with caution, and investing in acquiring information before audit selection can have substantial benefits.
Periodic rotation of staff in public administration may lead to lower corruption, as it disrupts long-term relationships between public officials and potential bribers. This paper proposes an~experimental design that tests the~anti-corruption effect of staff rotation in situations where public officials have committed to reciprocating bribes. We find that staff rotation does not influence the~proportion of firms offering bribes but does reduce the~share of bribe acceptance and inefficient decisions owing to bribery. The~outcome of the~staff-rotation treatment, in which firms offered bribes even though they were rarely accepted by officials, is consistent with the~game having a~quantal response equilibrium.