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Reactance to taxation: Employers’ attitudes towards taxes

The Journal of Socio-Economics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1053-5357(99)00003-7


Abstract Taxes limit an individual’s freedom to make autonomous decisions about his or her income. A person is likely to respond to restrictions on his or her own freedom or perceived restrictions by reactance if opposition is a promising means for reestablishing the initial situation. Reactance as a consequence of perceived limitation of freedom is likely to manifest itself through change of attitudes, tax morale, and tax behavior. It is hypothesized that employers who have been running their business only a short time perceive taxes as a drastic cut in their profit and possibilities for investments and tend to feel limited their freedom and consequently display reactance more than employers who have had more extensive experience with their firms and the tax system. A sample of 117 employers with one or more dependent workers completed a questionnaire on (a) perceived limitation of one’s freedom through tax obligations, (b) attitudes towards tax evasion, (c) moral standards with regard to paying taxes, (d) actions to reduce or avoid taxes, and (e) demographic characteristics. As predicted, perceived restriction of freedom was correlated with positive attitudes toward tax evasion, lower tax morale, and reported tendencies to act against paying taxes. Employers who had run their firm only a short time felt greater loss of freedom and displayed greater reactance than employers with more extensive experience.

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