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Complexity, compliance costs and non compliance with VAT by small and medium enterprises in Bangladesh: Is there a relationship?

Published on 01 May 14 by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE

Similar to many developing nations, Bangladesh’s small and medium sector enterprises (SMEs) constitute some 90% of all businesses and play an important role in the country’s economic growth and employment.1 This study investigates the nature and extent of the relationships between the complexity of Bangladesh’s Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation, the costs of compliance with VAT in Bangladesh, and non-compliance (either intentional or unintentional) with the VAT legislation by Bangladeshi SMEs. These results could be important as it appears that SMEs are under-represented in terms of their contribution to Bangladesh’s VAT revenue collection, which if other foreign studies2 are relevant could be due in part to compliance costs. The current study is the first to empirically examine the relationships between the complexity of VAT legislation, compliance costs and noncompliance for SMEs in Bangladesh context. The study involved firstly a series of focus group interviews involving different types of SMEs taxpayers in Bangladesh. This was then followed by survey through a purposive sample of SMEs taxpayers in Bangladesh.

The results suggest that a majority of the compliant SMEs taxpayers listed complexity in VAT law and compliance costs as the two important factors influencing VAT noncompliance in SMEs. On the other hand, non-compliant taxpayers emphasised more about the positive relationship between taxpayers and VAT officials for compliant behaviour. The likelihood of audits, penalties and sanctions were found to have less effect on VAT non-compliance for non-compliant taxpayers. In comparison, such monitoring and penalties would apparently improve compliant behaviour by compliant taxpayers. The findings of this research have practical policy implications, in that they can assist policy makers and administrators in their understanding of the potential interrelationships between legislative and regulatory complexity, the costs of complying with VAT legislation, and non-compliance with VAT legislation by SMEs. Having a robust and functioning VAT system is seen as an important attribute for a developing economy, so these findings may be important not only for Bangladesh, but also similar developing economies.

Author profiles

Dr Brett Freudenberg CTA
Photo of author, Brett FREUDENBERG Brett Freudenberg is an Associate Professor – Taxation at Griffith University (Australia). Brett is known for his research expertise in the tax law and policy issues facing private enterprises, as evidenced by his Fulbright Scholarship (2006) and over 50 refereed publications in leading Australian and international journals. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has analysed whether Australia should introduce a tax flow-through company (S Corporation), the tax treatment of discretionary trusts and the motivation for choice of business structure. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has informed government policy as he was invited to present his PhD research findings to the Australian Treasury as part of the Henry Tax Review. Brett is passionate about education being a transformative process, and his effectiveness as a teacher has been recognised through five national awards (including the award of two Australian Learning and Teaching Council citations: 2008 & 2011). - Current at 29 May 2017
Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Brett FREUDENBERG.
Dr Brett Freudenberg CTA
Brett Freudenberg is an Associate Professor – Taxation at Griffith University (Australia). Brett is known for his research expertise in the tax law and policy issues facing private enterprises, as evidenced by his Fulbright Scholarship (2006) and over 50 refereed publications in leading Australian and international journals. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has analysed whether Australia should introduce a tax flow-through company (S Corporation), the tax treatment of discretionary trusts and the motivation for choice of business structure. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has informed government policy as he was invited to present his PhD research findings to the Australian Treasury as part of the Henry Tax Review. Brett is passionate about education being a transformative process, and his effectiveness as a teacher has been recognised through five national awards (including the award of two Australian Learning and Teaching Council citations: 2008 & 2011). - Current at 29 May 2017
Dr Brett Freudenberg CTA
Brett Freudenberg is an Associate Professor – Taxation at Griffith University (Australia). Brett is known for his research expertise in the tax law and policy issues facing private enterprises, as evidenced by his Fulbright Scholarship (2006) and over 50 refereed publications in leading Australian and international journals. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has analysed whether Australia should introduce a tax flow-through company (S Corporation), the tax treatment of discretionary trusts and the motivation for choice of business structure. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has informed government policy as he was invited to present his PhD research findings to the Australian Treasury as part of the Henry Tax Review. Brett is passionate about education being a transformative process, and his effectiveness as a teacher has been recognised through five national awards (including the award of two Australian Learning and Teaching Council citations: 2008 & 2011). - Current at 29 May 2017
Dr Brett Freudenberg CTA
Brett Freudenberg is an Associate Professor – Taxation at Griffith University (Australia). Brett is known for his research expertise in the tax law and policy issues facing private enterprises, as evidenced by his Fulbright Scholarship (2006) and over 50 refereed publications in leading Australian and international journals. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has analysed whether Australia should introduce a tax flow-through company (S Corporation), the tax treatment of discretionary trusts and the motivation for choice of business structure. Associate Professor Freudenberg’s research has informed government policy as he was invited to present his PhD research findings to the Australian Treasury as part of the Henry Tax Review. Brett is passionate about education being a transformative process, and his effectiveness as a teacher has been recognised through five national awards (including the award of two Australian Learning and Teaching Council citations: 2008 & 2011). - Current at 29 May 2017
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