A Fair Share of Tax

A Fiscal Anthropology of Contemporary Sweden
 
 
Palgrave Macmillan (Verlag)
  • erschienen am 31. Januar 2018
 
  • Buch
  • |
  • Hardcover
  • |
  • XIII, 136 Seiten
978-3-319-69771-0 (ISBN)
 
This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license. This book takes a taxpayer's perspective on the relations taxation creates between people and their state. Björklund Larsen proposes that in order to understand tax compliance and cheating, we have to look beyond law, psychological experiments and surveys to also include tax collectors and taxpayers' practices. The text explores the view of taxes seen as citizen's explicit economic relation to the state and implicit economic relation to all other compatriots. Björklund Larsen directs our gaze onto the concept of reciprocity, which is often proposed as an explanation in tax compliance research, and explores its diverse meanings and implications ethnographically. The empirical cases are based on ethnography from two opposing tax practices in Sweden. Firstly, from a study of analysts, auditors, legal experts and managers at the Swedish Tax Agency and how they, quite successfully, strive for legitimacy in their tax collecting activities. Secondly, from fieldwork among a group of middle-aged Swedes and how they justify their purchasing work off the books - essentially tax-cheating practices. Sweden is a modern welfare society with citizens holding rational and secular values, yet trusting their government and fellow citizens. Sweden also has a high tax burden that is collected by one of its most revered governmental agencies - the Swedish Tax Agency - making it an interesting case studying tax compliance.
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Lotta Björklund Larsen is Research Fellow at Linköping University, Sweden. She is an economic anthropologist that finds taxation a fascinating practice as it goes right to the heart of the relations between individuals' values, governmental regulations and institutional impact. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine and The City University of New York, USA. Prior to academic work, Björklund Larsen worked in the financial software industry.

Preface

1 Exchanges create relations

Defining taxation

Reciprocity

Why Sweden?

Understanding the relation between society and tax

Fieldwork: Ethnography of Swedes' views on taxation

Research on why we pay tax

Anthropology of economic exchanges and reciprocity

Reciprocity proliferating

To see tax as a gift - or?

Conclusion

Literature

2 Taxpayers' relation to their state

Taxes in terms of reciprocity cannot be measured

The Agency's view on why taxpayers comply

Fairness in tax collection

Who is the taxpayer?

A contemporary view of taxpayers at the Agency

Getting value for 'tax' money

Unfairly treated by society

Balancing a fair deal with the state

Conclusion

Literature

3. Taxpayer to taxpayer relation

The Agency's view

Barter

Taxpayer views on barter

Business and private life

An example: Horse trotting

Business and private life continued

Informalizing the formal

Formalizing the informal: Share economy

Conclusion

Literature

4. Tensions between paying and receiving

Being Magister

Progressive marginal tax

Pillars of society

Balance artists

Contributive and distributive balancing

Not paying for those who do not pay

A fair society

Conclusion

Literature

5. Making tax compliant

Taxation is a total social phenomenon

Balance outstanding

Fair share - all need to contribute

Literature

This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license.

This book takes a taxpayer's perspective to the relations taxation creates between people and their state. Larsen proposes that in order to understand tax compliance and cheating, we have to look beyond law, psychological experiments and surveys to include tax collectors and taxpayers' practices. The text explores the view of taxes seen as citizen's explicit economic relation to the state and implicit economic relation to all other compatriots. Larsen suggests how to build and increase tax compliance if we take the idea of taxation creating reciprocal relations seriously.
The empirical cases are based on ethnography from two opposing tax practices in Sweden. Firstly, from a study of analysts, auditors, legal experts and managers at the Swedish Tax Agency and how they, quite successfully, strive for legitimacy in their tax collecting activities in society. Secondly, from fieldwork among a group of middle-aged Swedes and how they justify their tax-cheating when purchasing work off the books. Sweden is a modern society seen as particularly rational and the least prone to worry about survival issues; they trust their government and fellow citizens. Sweden is therefore an important country to look at as an example of tax compliance and whether other countries showing a continuous inclination towards these values will follow their lead.

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