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

Published on 01 Jul 09 by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE

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

Prof Michael Walpole CTA
Photo of author, Michael WALPOLE Prof Michael Walpole CTA is the Head of School at the School of Taxation and Business Law (including Atax) in the UNSW Business School. 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 (solicitor and barrister). As a partner in a small firm, Michael's legal practice was extremely varied, ranging from criminal defence, through family law and estate planning, to commercial and taxation matters. 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 the editor of the Australian Tax Forum 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. 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 is an International Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Business Tax in the Said Business School, University of Oxford. In 2010 and 2012, he was engaged in a project at the Centre for Business Tax to study the role of tax in choices made by large companies when locating valuable intangible property. In 2012, Michael was also a Visiting Professor in the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD in Paris. While at the OECD, Michael worked on research projects related to VAT and to tax compliance costs and he continues to contribute to the work of the CTPA Indirect Taxes division. - Current at 30 May 2017
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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 July 2015
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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 12 January 2017
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