Explaining Tax Non-Compliance from a Neo-Institutionalist Perspective: Some Lessons from a Public Opinion Survey in Turkey

Kayaoğlu Yılmaz A., Williams C. C.

SOSYOEKONOMI, vol.28, no.43, pp.89-106, 2020 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 28 Issue: 43
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.17233/sosyoekonomi.2020.01.05
  • Journal Name: SOSYOEKONOMI
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.89-106


Conventionally, those engaging in tax non-compliance are explained as rational economic actors doing so when the benefits outweigh the costs. However, many individuals are still compliant to their tax regimes even when the pay-off from tax evasion is greater than the costs. The result is the emergence of a social actor perspective that gives primacy to tax morale when explaining tax noncompliance. Through the lens of neo-institutionalist theory, this approach argues that citizens behave in ways that reflect the normative, cultural-cognitive and regulatory rules of their institutional environments. To test this theory, we have analyzed a representative micro survey of 2,528 citizens in Turkey. The finding we have obtained in this paper using an econometric analysis is that high tax morale is significantly more likely when there is trust in government (the normative dimension), feeling of belonging to the nation (the cultural-cognitive dimension) and perceptions of the risk and severity of punishment (regulatory-instrumental dimension). It displays the importance of the tax morale approach when explaining and tackling tax non-compliance in Turkey.