Economics of Governance

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 87–99 | Cite as

Trust breeds trust: How taxpayers are treated

  • Lars P. Feld
  • Bruno S. Frey
Original Paper


Tax compliance has been studied in economics by analysing the individual decision of a representative person between paying and evading taxes. A neglected aspect of tax compliance is the interaction of taxpayers and tax authorities. The relationship between the two actors can be understood as an implicit or “psychological” contract. Studies on tax evasion in Switzerland show that the more strongly the political participation rights are developed, the more important this contract is, and the higher tax morale is. In this paper, empirical evidence based on a survey of tax authorities of the 26 Swiss states (cantons) is presented, indicating that the differences in the treatment of taxpayers by tax authorities can be explained by differences in political participation rights as well.

Key words: tax evasion, tax authority, tax compliance, direct democracy 
JEL classification: H26, H73, D73, D78 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars P. Feld
    • 1
  • Bruno S. Frey
    • 2
  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, SIAW-HSG, Dufourstr. 48, CH-9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland (e-mail: CH
  2. 2.University of Zurich, Institute of Empirical Economic Research, Bluemlisalpstreet 10, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland (e-mail: CH

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