Religiosity and tax compliance : a practical study in New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
This research explores the role of religiosity in tax compliance. Specifically, the role that religiosity has on tax morale which, in turn, influences tax compliance. The aim of this research is to develop a qualitative understanding of religiosity and tax compliance in New Zealand. Therefore, this study has adopted an interpretivist approach to answer the research questions of the thesis. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with various individuals from the categories of small/medium business owners, religious leaders and accountants. Each category was chosen given their varying experiences with religiosity and tax compliance and to reflect the current religious background of New Zealand. The results found that most participants felt that religiosity can have a positive impact on tax compliance; however, considered public opinion was contrary. Although religiosity can be influential on tax compliance, its perceived strength is low compared with other variables such as New Zealand’s source deduction (Pay as You Earn) system and civic duty. Using an earlier religiosity definition as a guide, participants felt that intrapersonal religious commitments that arise from a faith and belief in a religion had the greatest impact on the religiosity-tax compliance relationship. However, culture within a religiosity context also had to be considered and is often ignored. Thus, this thesis highlights the role of religious culture in future areas of research. Participants also noted that personal moral beliefs and religious beliefs could be separated as concepts; however, most were uncertain as to how these concepts would be measured. Lastly, participants found that religiosity as a concept could not be measured accurately. However, if religiosity had to be measured, no consensus could be reached, highlighting issues for further religiosity research. These findings have implications in a policy and academic context.