NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Ronald H. Hodge II

Internal Revenue Service
Research, Applied Analytics,
and Statistics
77 K Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2018Heard it Through the Grapevine: Direct and Network Effects of a Tax Enforcement Field Experiment
with William C. Boning, John Guyton, Joel Slemrod, Ugo Troiano: w24305
Tax enforcement may affect both the behavior of those directly treated and of some taxpayers not directly treated but linked via a network to those who are treated. A large-scale randomized field experiment enables us to examine both the direct and network effects of letters and in-person visits on withheld income and payroll tax remittances by at-risk firms. Visited firms remit substantially more tax. Their tax preparers’ other clients also remit slightly more tax, while their subsidiaries remit slightly less. Letters have a much smaller direct effect and no network effects, yet may improve compliance at lower cost.
 
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