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Behavioural science key to tax revenue

26 July 2017

HMRC currently estimates that illegal tax evasion and legal tax avoidance together cost the UK government around £34bn a year. However, a new study has found that using ‘nudges’ informed by behavioural science research can help reduce this.

A Warwick Business School study found using descriptive norms – ie describing what other people do, such as “nine out of 10 people in the UK pay their tax on time” taps into our social norm bias and significantly increases tax payment rates.

Researchers estimate that £4.9m of tax repayment was accelerated during a 23-day sample period where this sort of message was trialled with 200,000 UK taxpayers.


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