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Complexity of New Zealand’s income tax legislation: The final installment

Published on 01 Jul 10 by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE

New Zealand’s (“NZ’s”) income tax legislation has been criticised for many years for being difficult to read and understand. It has also been described as unnecessarily complex and detailed. In response to this concern, the NZ Government committed itself to a complete reorganisation and rewrite of the income tax legislation. The recent enactment of the Income Tax Act (“ITA 2007”), which includes a complete rewrite of Parts F to the end of the Act (Stage Four of the rewrite process), marks the completion of the rewrite project. To provide for consistency and comparability with prior studies, this study employs four readability measures which include: the Flesch Reading Ease Score, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (“F-KGL”) Index, average sentence length and percentage of passive sentences to examine the readability of New Zealand’s ITA 2007 and other tax related materials, such as Tax Information Bulletins (“TIBs”) and binding rulings. Given that the completion of Stage Four of the rewrite process marks the end of the New Zealand rewrite project, this study intends to reflect on the overall success of the NZ Government’s effort in achieving its tax simplicity goals in the context of improved readability. The results from this study highlight significant improvements of the readability scores of Parts F to the rest of the Act since the enactment of the ITA 2007.

Author profiles:

Kathryn SAW
Kathryn (Siu Ling) is an Honours student in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ.
Current at 1 July 2010

 
Prof Adrian Sawyer
Adrian is Professor of Taxation in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ. Current at 01 March 2015 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Adrian J SAWYER.
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