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06-02-2020 | Original Paper | Issue 1/2021

Journal of Business Ethics 1/2021

The Association Between Vertical Equity and Presidential Voting Behavior and Taxpayers’ Compliance

Journal:
Journal of Business Ethics > Issue 1/2021
Authors:
Jonathan Farrar, Dawn W. Massey, Errol Osecki, Linda Thorne
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Abstract

Since taking office, the President of the United States has consistently refused to make his tax returns available for public scrutiny. In so doing, he has broken with presidential tradition and kept people guessing about what his tax returns would show if they were disclosed. Interestingly enough, in the absence of concrete knowledge about the President’s tax circumstances, some taxpayers perceive that he did not pay his fair share and others perceive that he did. This situation presents an opportunity for us to consider how vertical equity perceptions about the President’s fair share of taxes, and identification with the President via voting behavior, are jointly associated with taxpayers’ compliance. Using insights from equity theory as reported in Adams (in: Berkowitz (ed) Advances in experimental social psychology, Academic Press, New York, 1965) and social learning theory as reported in Bandura (Social learning theory, General Learning Press, New York, 1971, Social learning theory, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1977), we anticipate and find that those taxpayers who perceive that the President did not pay his fair share of taxes and who most closely socially identify with him have the lowest tax compliance. We use a survey of 600 American taxpayers to capture their perceptions of vertical equity, voting behavior, and tax compliance intentions. Our results may reflect that taxpayers who identify with the President will tend to model his tax-related actions, or may also indicate that some taxpayers vote for a president whose actions are similar to their own. Insights and implications for ethics and tax researchers and tax policy makers are discussed.

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