Accuracy, agreement, and aggressiveness in tax reporting: evidence from the money magazine contests
This paper examines the accuracy of the reporting recommendations of professional tax preparers, the extent of agreement among those recommendations, and the degree of aggressiveness of preparers' recommendations. In contrast to prior laboratory studies, however, archival data from six tax-return preparation contests reported in Money magazine from 1988 to 1993 are examined. These contests have professional tax preparers evaluate the tax obligation of a hypothetical family. While the contests resemble in some ways conventional experiments in taxation and other fields, they overcome some of the typical criticisms of laboratory experiments-including the lack of access to peer consultation and decision-aiding tools and the absence of strong financial or reputational incentives to perform well. The data reported in Money shed light on some possible determinants of tax preparers' accuracy, agreement, and aggressiveness that have been identified in the laboratory. When statistically significant results are found, however, they often conflict with those from laboratory experiments. © 2000.
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