Men are significantly more likely than women to evade paying tax, according to new research.
The new study, published in the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics, suggests that men tend to under-report their income, in contrast to women, who are more honest. However, the findings also show that men may be more willing to contribute their full share of tax when they are provided with information about where the money will go.
Researchers surveyed nearly 1,500 people in the US, UK, Sweden and Italy to gauge attitudes about paying tax among people who self-report their income.
"We have found robust evidence that tax compliance is greater for women than men," said John D'Attoma, from the University of Exeter Business School, who was part of the research team. "But men are more responsive to the incentives attached to paying taxes."
"Women are compliant even when they do not expect anything in return, and we had this result in every country where we ran the experiment. This shows that equal pay and measures to bring more women into the labour market could really have an impact in shrinking the tax gap."
This finding could be important for governments around the world who are trying to collect more tax through tackling evasion as it demonstrates that reducing the gender pay gap and increasing female participation in the workforce may be just as effective.
For the study, participants took part in group laboratory experiments where they performed a mock clerical task, which entitled them to 'earn' a small amount of money. They were also told they would be taxed and were asked to self-report their income.
The participants were warned that there was a five percent chance that their earnings would be audited, and if they were caught evading the tax, they would have to pay a financial penalty double the value of whatever tax they were meant to pay.
Different experiments were conducted with varying tax rates and structures, while the tax revenue was divide equally between the participants after every session.
"We wanted to test both willingness to pay taxes, and willingness to contribute to public services," D'Attoma said. "Our results suggest overall women are more willing to pay taxes and men respond more to the fact that they will get something, such as a public good, in return for their tax money."