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Understanding Australian small businesses and the drivers of compliance costs: a grounded theory approach


The paper presents an overview of a scoping study undertaken by the authors in 2006 for the Board of Taxation as part of a review being undertaken by the Board at the request of the then Federal Treasurer. The study was required to be qualitative in nature and not limited to tax compliance costs. A grounded theory approach was adopted and in depth interviews were conducted with small businesses and tax practitioners. Theories derived by this approach are described as “grounded” in the views and observations of the interviewees. Using matrix analysis, five theories were identified, refined and then validated by reference to other sources. The key finding was that while all small businesses incurred tax compliance costs, they were not an issue for all small businesses nor necessarily their major compliance cost concern.

Author profiles:

Author Photo - Michael Walpole CTA
Prof Michael Walpole CTA

Professor Michael Walpole is the Associate Head of School (Research) at the School of Taxation and Business Law (including Atax) in the Australian School of Business.

Michael has a PhD in Taxation Law from the Faculty of Law UNSW. Prior to academic life, Michael worked as a Tax Consultant with Ernst & Young, and prior to that he was in private practice as a legal practitioner. As a partner in a small firm, Michael's legal practice was extremely varied. As an academic he has been awarded the Hill Medal by the Australasian Tax Teachers Association (ATTA) for his contribution to tax teaching and is a past President of ATTA.

Michael has authored and co-authored several books including Proposals for the Reform of the Taxation of Goodwill, Understanding Taxation Law and Compliance Cost Control. Michael has also written and presented many papers on his research topics to practitioner and academic audiences in Australia and overseas. He is co-editor of the Australian Tax Review and he is also author and co-author of a number of articles on GST, taxation of intellectual property, tax administration and taxation compliance costs, especially psychological costs of taxation compliance.

Michael is an International Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Business Tax in the Said Business School, University of Oxford.

Current at 31 October 2013 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Michael WALPOLE.
Prof Margaret McKerchar
Margaret is a Professor Australian School of Business, School of Taxation and Business Law, The University of New South Wales. Current at 01 May 2014 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Margaret MCKERCHAR.

Dr Helen Hodgson CTA
Helen joined Curtin Law School as an Associate Professor in 2014, following 10 years teaching in the Atax programme at UNSW. Helen has a particular interest in tax policy, and was a participant at the 2010 Tax Forum. Her current area of research is the tax-transfer system, but she also researches in superannuation, and the gender impacts of the tax-transfer system. In 2010, Helen was a co-author of the Women's Voices Report commissioned by the Equality Rights Alliance to examine factors influencing women's workforce participation, including superannuation, tax and transfer issues. Helen holds qualifications in accounting, business law and taxation, and is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants. Current at 01 January 2016 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Helen HODGSON.
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