Deterioration in public confidence in the tax system is not associated with an increase in admitted income tax evasion. Analysis suggests that both satisfied and dissatisfied taxpayers remain honest because they are afraid of getting caught. A higher proportion of the dissatisfied honest, however, believes that people cheat because taxes are too high. Agreement with this belief is necessary for the amount of taxes to become a justification for taxpayer dishonesty. The effect of perceived unfairness of the tax system on compliance may not be a simple, direct one. The data suggest that compliance norms must be neutralized and sanction fear weakened before noncompliance occurs.
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