Effectiveness of Planning Prompts on Organizations’ Likelihood to File Their Overdue Taxes: A Multi‐Wave Field Experiment
This paper investigates the effectiveness of planning prompts on organizations’ tax compliance behavior. We conducted a large-scale, multi‐wave field experiment examining the tax-paying behavior of all organizations that failed to file timely annual returns for a payroll tax in the province of Ontario. Organizations were randomly assigned to receive one of two letters: Ontario’s standard late notice (control) and a revised experimental late notice, which included step-by-step instructions of when, where, and how to file a return. Our data indicate that planning prompts are effective at increasing organizations’ timely tax payment. In addition to replicating these findings across two waves, we demonstrate that, although our intervention did not appear to have effects that persisted across tax years, organizations also did not habituate to our manipulation and its effects were consistent across repeated exposures. Our study is among the first to demonstrate that a simple behavioral intervention that has typically been applied to individuals to help them to act upon their existing motivations can be effective in the realm of tax compliance and organizational behavior.
This paper was accepted by David Simchi-Levi, behavioral economics.