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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2018

A Fair Share of Tax

A Fiscal Anthropology of Contemporary Sweden

Palgrave Macmillan
  • A fresh and necessary outlook at tax compliance issues from an economic anthropology perspective

  • Stresses reciprocity is to be taken seriously in tax compliance

  • Explains reciprocal relations based on what taxpayers and tax practitioners actually do

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (5 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xiii
  2. Exchanges Create Relations

    • Lotta Björklund Larsen
    Pages 1-47Open Access
  3. Taxpayers’ Relation to Their State

    • Lotta Björklund Larsen
    Pages 49-73Open Access
  4. Taxpayer to Taxpayer Relation

    • Lotta Björklund Larsen
    Pages 75-98Open Access
  5. Tensions between Paying and Receiving

    • Lotta Björklund Larsen
    Pages 99-121Open Access
  6. Making Tax Compliant

    • Lotta Björklund Larsen
    Pages 123-131Open Access
  7. Back Matter

    Pages 133-136

About this book

This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license.

This book takes a taxpayer's perspective on the relations taxation creates between people and their state. Björklund Larsen proposes that in order to understand tax compliance and cheating, we have to look beyond law, psychological experiments and surveys to also include tax collectors and taxpayers' practices. The text explores the view of taxes seen as citizen’s explicit economic relation to the state and implicit economic relation to all other compatriots. Björklund Larsen directs our gaze onto the concept of reciprocity, which is often proposed as an explanation in tax compliance research, and explores its diverse meanings and implications ethnographically. 

The empirical cases are based on ethnography from two opposing tax practices in Sweden. Firstly, from a study of analysts, auditors, legal experts and managers at the Swedish Tax Agency and how they, quite successfully, strive for legitimacy in their tax collecting activities. Secondly, from fieldwork among a group of middle-aged Swedes and how they justify their purchasing work off the books – essentially tax-cheating practices. Sweden is a modern welfare society with citizens holding rational and secular values, yet trusting their government and fellow citizens. Sweden also has a high tax burden that is collected by one of its most revered governmental agencies – the Swedish Tax Agency - making it an interesting case studying tax compliance.


  • Tax compliance
  • Reciprocity
  • Ethnography
  • Economic anthropology
  • Welfare
  • Exchanges
  • Taxpayer
  • Marcel Mauss
  • Swedish Tax Agency
  • quid-pro-quo exchange
  • Fiscal anthropology
  • Swedish tax
  • Behavioural economics
  • Economic exchanges and reciprocity
  • Tax as a gift
  • Public economics
  • Progressive marginal tax
  • Contributive and distributive balancing
  • Open Access


“The monograph provides thorough insight into the practises of the Swedish Tax Agency and the considerations of taxpayers when deciding whether or not to be tax compliant. Due to the topical nature of the matter at hand it should be of interest to a broader audience.” (Yvette Lind, British Tax Review, Issue 2, 2021)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Thematic Studies: Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

    Lotta Björklund Larsen

About the author

Lotta Björklund Larsen is Research Fellow at Linköping University, Sweden. She is an economic anthropologist that finds taxation a fascinating practice as it goes right to the heart of the relations between individuals’ values, governmental regulations and institutional impact. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine and The City University of New York, USA. Prior to academic work, Björklund Larsen worked in the financial software industry.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)