Taxation is necessary to the proper functioning of the modern welfare state and payment of taxes can be thought of as a unifying act that brings us together to further our collective goals. Taxes touch our lives in many ways and our willingness to contribute through paying taxes, understood in our project as “fiscal citizenship”, is complicated. All countries have a fiscal culture i.e. social norms around paying taxes and ‘tax morale’ or how citizens feel about paying taxes. Our comparative project will address this important issue in a study that comprises Canada, Germany and the UK and that includes the impact of demographic change in the form of migration, on established taxpaying norms.
In the face of economic instability and costs associated with the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with increasing migration, securing funds to support the welfare state is a pressing issue. However, our study is not only important for developing policies that support and encourage fiscal citizenship but will also shed light on the broader question of how political and institutional context shapes citizens' preferences and societal integration. Attitudes towards paying taxes also provide a window into wider aspects of modern society such as social norms, respect for authority, trust and cultural traditions.
It is surprising that we currently know little about the relationships between citizenship, migration and fiscal citizenship, which means that tax systems and collection policies may not be designed in the most efficient way. Over the last 3 – 4 decades, Canada, Germany and the UK have each experienced a large influx of migrants from a wide range of other countries, each with their own fiscal culture. These changes in the make-up of our societies inevitably impact on fiscal citizenship. Newcomers bring with them experiences of their home countries and may not readily adapt to the new fiscal culture, which itself may need to modernise to be more inclusive. This has implications not only for tax authorities trying to collect tax as best they can, but also for existing citizens who may experience a change in their own willingness to pay taxes.
We will seek the views of a wide range of participants through surveys, interviews, and experiments in our three countries to improve our understanding about national fiscal citizenship. The project's interdisciplinary research agenda will interest scholars and policymakers working on issues related to migration, fiscal citizenship, and the intersection between the two.
Kim-Lee Tuxhorn, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Calgary
Jonathan Farrar, Associate Professor in Accounting, Wilfrid Laurier University
Till-Arne Hahn, Assistant Professor Accounting, HEC Montréal
Dirk Kiesewetter, Professor of Tax Accounting, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Martin Fochmann, Professor for Accounting and Taxation, Freie Universität Berlin
Hans-Joachim Lauth Professor of Comparative Politics and Systems Studies, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Ralf Schenke Professor of Public Law, German, European and International Tax Law, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Lynne Oats, Professor of Taxation and Accounting, University of Exeter
Oliver James, Professor of Politics, University of Exeter
Lotta Björklund Larsen, Research Fellow, Tax Administration Research Centre, University of Exeter