How Government Spending Impacts Tax Compliance


School of Accountancy

Document Type


Publication Date



This study examines how taxpayer support for government spending can improve tax compliance. While there is ample evidence on the deterrent effect of audit probability on taxpayer noncompliance, there is no evidence related to the moderating role that taxpayer support may have on compliance behavior. We also examine the moderating role that taxpayer ethics plays in compliance decisions. Results of our study indicate that the level of taxpayer support influences taxpayer compliance decisions, in that those with greater support for how tax dollars are spent report higher amounts of taxable income. In addition, we find that audit probability influences taxpayer compliance decisions when there is support for the government’s use of tax dollars for non-welfare programs, such as defense. However, for welfare programs, such as healthcare, taxpayer support leads to increased compliance regardless of audit rate. When taxpayers do not support government programs, their compliance is lower regardless of the audit probability. This highlights the importance of gaining taxpayer support for government programs and indicates that attempts to align the interests of taxpayers with those of the government may increase voluntary compliance among taxpayers. Finally, we find that taxpayer ethics influences compliance such that, for individuals who have lower ethical standards, a high audit rate as well as support for a program may be necessary to improve compliance behavior. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Journal Title

Journal of Business Ethics

Journal ISSN


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)