Taxation is a primary tool to collect resources and to alter individual and organizational behaviour. Against the backdrop of increasingly scarce public resources and tax avoidance of large corporations and wealthy individuals, behaviourally informed instruments of tax collection are on the rise. Both academia, most notably behavioural economics, and innovative policy-makers promote randomized control trials in which they directly address tardy taxpayers through tax letters. While empirical outcomes of these experiments are mixed, they indicate a fundamental reinterpretation of the relationship between the individual and the state: Emphasis is placed on moral conduct, social norms and appropriate individual behaviour. Behaviourally informed policy innovations invoke imagined social contracts between the public and tax authorities, making moralization a cornerstone of public policy in the field of tax collection thereby altering the state-taxpayer relationship.
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