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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.106
"Help us find tax cheaters!" Informing on neighbors in Scandinavia
Taxation is both an economic necessity for the welfare state and a moral relationship between the citizen and the state fiscal authorities. States can therefore decide how vigilant they should be in collecting certain kinds of taxes and in identifying tax cheaters or people obtaining illegitimate welfare benefits. Scandinavian welfare states are based on a homogenous idea of a collective, where everyone should bear “their fair burden” of tax payment. While it may be socially acceptable to cheat on some kinds of tax (through black work or cigarette smuggling), communities also have limits based on some kind of scale of indignation. Scandinavian tax and welfare authorities now solicit help from citizens in identifying those who either do not pay their fair share of taxes, fail to report extra income, or are receiving illegitimate welfare benefits. Citizens can now inform the authorities or upload photos, effectively becoming a neighborly surveillance arm. Using data from Denmark and Sweden, this paper problematizes these new informing practices, and how people navigate between neighborly solidarity, indignation at illicitly wealthy neighbors, use of digital surveillance to take revenge and civic duty towards the collective.