Publication: Applying Behavioral Insights to Improve Tax Collection: Experimental Evidence from Poland

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Jamison, Julian
Korczyc, Ewa
Mazar, Nina
Sormani, Roberto
Mobilizing domestic revenues efficiently is a priority for the Government of Poland, but it is not easy. There are numerous instruments that can be used to achieve this objective. Traditional measures to boost government revenues include changes to the tax legislation and reforms in the area of tax administration. Such measures can have a large fiscal impact, but are often politically challenging to design and negotiate, and can take time to implement. Behavioral interventions often focus on adapting existing systems and processes and can thus be implemented relatively quickly and at a low cost. Overall, they are an additional tool in the policy toolkit that country authorities have to improve tax compliance, and thus complement but do not substitute traditional measures to establish effective tax collection systems including changes in tax legislations and tax administration reforms. Behavioral interventions can also help the Tax Authority to align its strategy more accurately to taxpayer behavior. The Polish authorities were interested in applying insights from behavioral economics to their communications with taxpayers to see if making small changes could promote tax compliance. This paper summarizes the results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that used letters to remind taxpayers in Poland to pay their taxes. These taxpayers had declared their personal income tax (PIT) for the 2015 fiscal year but had failed to pay what they owed by the deadline, April 30, 2016 (i.e., taxpayers in arrears). The trial took place between May and August 2016 and covered a total of 149,925 individual taxpayers.
Hernandez, Marco; Jamison, Julian; Korczyc, Ewa; Mazar, Nina; Sormani, Roberto. 2017. Applying Behavioral Insights to Improve Tax Collection: Experimental Evidence from Poland. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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