Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization



Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

First Advisor

Jonathan Farrar

Advisor Role



The purpose of my research is to investigate how perceptions of retributive justice influence tax compliance. I address this objective by proposing two research questions: (1) How do taxpayers perceive the propriety of punishment for tax evasion? (2) How and when are observers’ compliance intentions influenced by perceptions of fairness disclosures about a specific retributive outcome, and the presence of a fairness-relevant disclosure?

To address the first research question, I conduct a survey of 331 adult Canadian taxpayers to ascertain the extent to which taxpayers perceive punishments for tax evasion as fair or unfair. I find that an appropriate punishment is viewed as a fine equal to the amount of taxes evaded.

To address the second research question, I conduct an experiment using 400 adult Canadian taxpayers. In this experiment, I examine two levels of retributive justice disclosures regarding punishment outcomes where punishments for offences are perceived as too lenient (unfair) versus just right (fair), and I also examine how the combination of fairness disclosures about a specific retributive outcome, and the presence of a justice-relevant disclosure influence tax compliance. I find that when taxpayers are presented with multiple justice disclosures, they anchor on the disclosure presented first. Specifically, when the justice-relevant disclosure precedes the retributive justice disclosure the differential effect on observers' compliance from the retributive justice disclosure will be suppressed. However, when a retributive justice disclosure precedes another justice-relevant disclosure, observers will anchor on the retributive justice disclosure, and the justice-relevant disclosure will not significantly alter their initial fairness judgment.

My research extends the retributive justice and tax compliance literatures by carefully examining retributive justice disclosures at a more fine-grained level, and provides an incremental contribution to the retributive justice literature by demonstrating the differential impact of retributive justice perceptions on subsequent behaviour. Moreover, this research is the first to examine when and how retributive justice disclosures or other tax-related justice-relevant disclosures can act as an anchor in decision making. Thus, my research contributes to existing research that examines how justice judgments can be used as an anchor which may influence subsequent tax reporting behaviour.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season