No. 39: Tax misperception and its effects on decision making – literature review and behavioral taxpayer response model

Abstract

Previous accounting research shows that taxes affect decision making by individuals and firms. Most studies assume that agents have an accurate perception regarding their tax burden. However, there is a growing body of literature analyzing whether taxes are indeed perceived correctly. We review 127 studies on the measurement of tax misperception and its behavioral implications. The review reveals that many taxpayers have substantial tax misperceptions that lead to biased decision making. We develop a Behavioral Taxpayer Response Model on the impact of provided tax information on tax perception. Besides individual traits, characteristics of the tax information and the decision environment determine the extent of tax misperception. We discuss opportunities for future research and methodological limitations. While there is much evidence on tax misperception at the individual level, we hardly find any research at the firm level. Little is known about the real effects of managers’ tax misperception and on how tax information is strategically managed to impact stakeholders. This research gap is surprising as a large part of the accounting literature analyzes decision making and disclosure of firms. We recommend a mixed-method approach combining experiments, surveys, and archival data analyses to improve the knowledge on tax misperception and its consequences.

Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and Goethe University Frankfurt who share the same research agenda.