Fairness Perceptions and Compliance Behaviour: Taxpayers' Judgments in Self-Assessment Environments
Type of content
This cross cultural study compares the fairness perceptions of New Zealand and Malaysian individual taxpayers of their respective income tax systems, and investigates the consequences of those perceptions, together with other important variables, on their compliance behaviour. A theoretical framework was developed based on Equity Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour. The study’s hypotheses were tested using the responses to questionnaire surveys (which included two scenarios) and in-depth telephone interviews, which were conducted sequentially in both countries. Partial Least Squares and thematic analysis were used to analyse the surveys and interviews data, respectively.
The results suggest that Malaysian taxpayers have significantly better perceptions of fairness of their income tax systems than their New Zealand counterparts, yet New Zealand taxpayers are more compliant. The most consistently important factor in explaining taxpayers’ compliance behaviour across the two countries is their attitude towards compliance, followed by subjective norms. Fairness perceptions, which are highly influenced by their tax knowledge and perceived complexity of the tax system, are also influential, particularly in the understating other incomes scenario. This cross-cultural study demonstrates that regardless of the differences between the two countries under study (in relation to economies, cultures and ethnicities), taxpayers generally respond in quite similar ways when it comes to meeting their tax obligations.