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Type: Thesis
Title: Tax Compliance: Beliefs, Behaviours, Attitudes and Values of Australian Taxpayers, Tax Agents and Australian Taxation Officers 1995 to 2000
Author: Niemirowski, Apolonia
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: The primary aim of the three published journal papers and two conference presentations reported in this thesis was to explore from a psychological perspective the determinants of Australian individual non-business taxpayers' tax compliance. The research study on which the published papers and conference presentations were based was designed while working at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to provide information that could be used by the ATO to develop strategies that would increase and maintain the tax compliance of non business taxpayers. The ATO Determinants Study was the first study in Australia to use actual historical taxpayer data matched with self-reported survey questionnaire responses on tax attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and values. Tax data included five years of tax lodgement, debt and audit data. The data was based on the actual tax behaviours of a sample of Australian 'individual non-business' population. As a baseline all taxpayers were compliant at a point in time (1995). During the following five years they had exhibited tax compliance behaviours that were assessed by ATO systems and risk management processes as low, medium or high risk non-compliance. Low indicated either complete compliance or less serious matters such as only a minor delay in tax return lodgement. A total of ten taxpayer groups were categorised. In addition to the seven non-business risk groups of taxpayers, compliant, medium or high risk for debt payment, medium or high risk for lodgement and an audit risk group, a sample of tax agents, younger taxpayers and tax administration staff were included to incorporate the relationships between the ATO, taxpayers and tax agents. The intention was to compare the seven taxpayer risk groups and three other groups to see if there were any discernible differences or factors that could explain non-compliant behaviours such as tax avoidance. A review of over forty years of tax compliance was conducted and presented at the ATAX international tax conference 2000 in Sydney Australia prior to candidature so was not included as a published work for this thesis. The literature review was based on tax compliance research using methodologies such as self-reported questionnaires, focus groups and theoretical experiments. The review informed the research design and helped develop the concept of beliefs, behaviours, attitudes and values that were to be assessed. The study used a comprehensive questionnaire survey and matched responses to de-identified taxpayers' ATO historical tax data. This enabled a direct data matching and comparison of taxpayer perceptions of their tax compliance with their actual tax behaviours. At the time the study was conducted, in another research project, The ATO Compliance Model was being developed to inform the ATO about the full taxpayer population (Braithwaite1 1997; Braithwaite1 2000). The model was aligned to this tax compliance determinants study in that it considered other taxpayer issues such as business1 industry1 sociological1 economic and psychological factors (BISEP) to inform taxpayers' attitudes and tax behaviours. The published papers and conference papers showed that within the individual nonĀ­ business taxpayer population1 there were identifiable differences relevant to tax compliance between compliant and non-compliant taxpayers1 and also between tax agents and taxpayers1 between compliant taxpayers and tax office staff, and between younger taxpayers and older taxpayers. The main difference between compliant and non-compliant taxpayers was identified as non-compliance intent1 taxpayer's potential to not comply. Others were related to tax knowledge1 tax reporting capability1 attitudes towards tax issues1 and attitudes towards the use of tax agents including a tendency for taxpayers to relinquish tax compliance responsibilities to them. Results showed why taxpayers chose to engage tax agents1 why some taxpayers did not comply with tax obligations and why others did. Younger taxpayers were identified as an emerging tax compliance risk group. In addition to identifying potential determinants of tax compliance behaviours1 the published papers and conference papers looked at how socio-economic and demographic factors may explain tax compliance and attitudes towards tax policies. The implications of these findings for ATO risk management strategies needed to increase and maintain tax compliance behaviours included providing simpler and more easily understood and accessible tax related information and establishing more positive relationships with tax agents and taxpayers based on a better understanding of a broader range of factors influencing tax compliance attitudes and behaviours. The findings of the published papers and conference presentations are also commented on in this account of them in terms of subsequent changes to the ATOs approach to managing the risk of tax non-compliance and the need for further research up to the present time.
Advisor: Kirby, Neil
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2017
Keywords: Tax compliance
tax agents
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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