The Observer Effect and Individual Tax Reporting Aggressiveness

Business (College of) / Accounting


This study examines whether the observer effect—namely the presence of watching eyes—mitigates taxpayers’ reporting aggressiveness, thereby narrowing the U.S. income tax gap. To address our research question, we conduct a 1x4 experiment in which participants are tasked with simulating the electronic filing of a simplified tax return. The taxpayers are informed that they have earned two classes of income during the year, salary income—which is reported to them, and to the IRS, on Form W-2—and cash tips—which are not subject to such reporting.

Tasks and Responsibilities

We are entering the data collection stage of this project. The student will help review. clean, and code experimental data. They will also conduct literature review to identify new research in this space. The student will also assist with creating and formatting descriptive tables to be used in the final manuscript.

Desired Qualifications