Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics Volume 95

Non-filing, the failure to submit a tax declaration, is a widespread phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa and produces detrimental fiscal effects, from impaired revenue mobilisation to inequality.

Non-filing has been largely unexplored in the public finance literature, which focuses mostly on active filers. This paper sheds light on the determinants of non-filing, building on neoclassical and behavioural theories, and adds to the methodological discussion on how to measure tax compliance.

Focusing on Eswatini, I combine survey data from one thousand entrepreneurs with their tax returns over 2013–2018. I show that economic deterrence, compliance costs and moral factors, such as intrinsic motivation and peer pressure, correlates with filing.

I also study how results change when using a self-reported measure of compliance. In terms of policy, results show that the tax authority could improve filing rates by balancing a deterrent and a service-oriented approach, and also by triggering the role of social norms.


Fabrizio Santoro

Fabrizio is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the Research Lead for the second component of the ICTD's DIGITAX Research Programme. His main research interests relate to governance, public finance, and taxation, with a strong focus on impact evaluation methodologies and statistical analysis. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex.
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