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Russian attitudes toward paying taxes – before, during, and after the transition

James Alm (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Jorge Martinez‐Vazque (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Benno Torgler (The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy, CREMA Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, Switzerland)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 1 December 2006




This paper examines citizens' attitudes toward paying taxes – what is sometimes termed their “tax morale” or the intrinsic motivation to pay taxes – focusing on the experience of individuals in the Russian Federation before, during, and after the transition from a planned socialist economy to a market‐based economy.


Micro‐level data for Russia from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey for the years 1991, 1995, and 1999 are used to estimate the determinants of individuals' attitudes toward paying taxes. The data also allow the examination of the evolution of tax morale in the regions of Russia.


The estimation results show decay in tax morale in the first four years of the transition, and a small recovery in 1999. Significant regional differences in tax morale are also found.

Research limitations/implications

The results are consistent with the relevance of social norms in tax compliance, where the widespread perception of tax evasion and of a corrupt and inefficient state led initially to a decline of tax morale. The results also indicate that the restoration of a higher level of trust in the state, after some progress in the transition to a market economy, positively influenced tax morale.

Practical implications

The results suggest, once tax morale is crowded out, it is difficult for government to raise tax morale very quickly back to previous levels. Doing so requires designing tax systems, tax administrations, and government structures that inspire trust and pride in governmental and legal institutions.


A unique aspect of the analysis is the ability to study tax morale at the individual level before (1991), during (1995), and shortly after (1999) the Russian transition.



Alm, J., Martinez‐Vazque, J. and Torgler, B. (2006), "Russian attitudes toward paying taxes – before, during, and after the transition", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 33 No. 12, pp. 832-857.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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