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Deterring Tax Delinquency in Philadelphia

Michael Chirico, Robert Inman, Charles Loeffler, John MacDonald, Holger Sieg

NBER Working Paper No. 23243
Issued in March 2017, Revised in June 2018
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

Municipal governments commonly confront problems with property tax collection. We model tardy taxpayers as procrastinators that have a present bias. Late payments arise due to lack of salience, lack of deterrence or lack of tax morale. To test the importance of the different theoretical explanations, we developed and implemented a randomized controlled experiment conducted with the City of Philadelphia. The structure of the experiment allows us to identify the relative importance of the three key sets of parameters of our model. We find that lack of salience and lack of deterrence are key components of non-compliance behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23243

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