Benford’s Law: an instrument for selecting tax audit targets?

  • Christoph WatrinEmail author
  • Ralf Struffert
  • Robert Ullmann
Original Paper


We consider whether Benford’s Law can be used to improve target selection prior to the start of on-site tax audits, thus increasing effectiveness and efficiency of fiscal enforcement. Laboratory experiments are conducted to obtain manipulated data and compare these to data which are known to be unmanipulated. We find that Benford’s Law can be used as a tool for audit selection, but that auditors must be cautious to ensure that Benford’s Law can be expected to apply to unmanipulated data of the prospective audit target. We also find that subjects cannot adapt sufficiently to Benford’s Law during tax fraud activity.


Audit target selection Experiments Benford’s Law Tax audit Noncompliance 


H26 C91 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Watrin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ralf Struffert
    • 1
  • Robert Ullmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Accounting and Taxation at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterMünsterGermany

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