Survey research in Australia during the period of the introduction of a Goods

Survey research in australia during the period of the

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consensus, about how the tax system should evolve. Survey research in Australia during the period of the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) is supportive of this analysis (Braithwaite et al., 2001). Taxation, while not popular, is generally accepted as a social benefit. Resistance was a common enough response to the tax system in the Australian population (55%), but cynicism in the form of disengagement from the system was contained to a small proportion of the population (7%) (see Braithwaite, Chapter 2, this volume). These findings would lead us to expect some conflict in deliberations about taxation with a significant proportion placing themselves publicly in opposition to the tax office. But because most people are committed to a tax system in general, a process of genuine deliberation will build legitimacy in the long run as the authority demonstrates integrity and citizens accept their obligations to pay tax. Hostility from taxpayers because the relationship with the tax authority is poor provides one reason why tax authorities need to be ever vigilant that their actions consistently convey soundness of purpose. Failure to communicate and critically analyse soundness of purpose occurs most dramatically in the public view when compliance is prioritized by the organisation above overall integrity. Admittedly, setting priorities for compliance management is not left to chance by any tax authority and remains the subject of much deliberation and debate at the senior levels of the organisation and of government. The question, however, remains: How should trade-offs be made that maximize revenue gained from compliance activities while protecting the integrity of the tax system? Conclusion The above analysis reveals why finding the optimal mix of compliance and integrity is no easy task. At the end of the day, the quality of the solution to a compliance integrity dilemma rests on the experience and wisdom of senior bureaucrats. What the above analysis can offer, however, are three principles that may be useful in understanding how good decisions come to be made by senior tax managers when a compliance integrity dilemma arises. First and foremost, both compliance and integrity can be boosted by investing in the human dimension of taxpayer management. Fundamentally, this means making a concerted effort to build a shared understanding with the community about what a tax system does and how it is best designed. Taxpayer management extends from the general to the specific. At the general level is the task of educating the community about the importance of a tax system and persuading them of its value. Outlining the principles for and methods of tax collection for the public and committing the organisation to the effective monitoring of compliance
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284 Taxing Democracy are further steps that a tax authority can take in an effort to win public support and establish a cooperative and responsive relationship with the community at large. At a more specific level, taxpayer management involves not only the pronouncement
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  • Fall '16
  • tax authority, Australian Taxation Office, Tax Office, Compliance Model

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