Miscellaneous 2003

The impact of complexity upon tax compliance: A study of Australian personal taxpayers

Source: Australian Tax Research Foundation

Published Date: 1 Jan 2003


This study explores the impact of complexity upon unintentional non-compliance behaviour for personal taxpayers in Australia. While compliance behaviour has been a topic of considerable research internationally over the last three decades or so, attention has generally been focused on intentional compliance behaviour, and in particular, on tax evasion and the processes by which taxpayers form their intentions.

In contrast, unintentional noncompliance as an area of study has largely been ignored both overseas and in Australia. This is in spite of the apparent potential it offers for tax authorities seeking to achieve improvements in compliance.

These taxpayers have formed the intention to comply, but perhaps because of the complexity of the system itself, the outcome was not as they intended. It seems reasonable to expect that the tax authority would seek to remove or address such impediments to compliance where they were within its control or influence, and take advantage of all well intended taxpayers. This study notes that for tax authorities, action designed to address unintentional non-compliance behaviour by personal taxpayers may be both more timely and more effective in achieving improvements in compliance than developing and implementing strategies to either change taxpayers’ attitudes or to limit opportunities for tax evasion.

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Miscellaneous 2003

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