What actions do governments around the world take that may affect individuals’ trust in the government that positively influence tax morale (or a positive attitude toward tax compliance)? This paper researches which are the most salient government institutions that breed individual trust and the extent to which this trust ends up increasing citizens’ tax morale. We use cross-country survey information from the World Values Survey and the Freedom House spanning 92 countries and six survey waves during the period 1981-2014. Conditional on the level of political rights and civil liberties, we confirm prior evidence that trust in government organizations positively influences tax morale. More importantly, our findings show that it is trust in output government organizations that implement and deliver public goods and services to the citizenry that has a significantly larger impact on tax morale as compared to citizens’ trust in input-side organizations, such as the legislative and the executive branches of the government that design policy. We also exploit periods of democratic transitions, when large variations in trust may be present, to assess the role of trust in government organizations for tax morale using a treatment effects model. Our results reveal a robust, positive impact of negative democratic transitions on tax morale.
Koumpias, Antonios M.; Leonardo, Gabriel; and Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge, "Trust in Government Institutions and Tax Morale" (2020). ICEPP Working Papers. 135.