Attitude of taxpayers towards tax evasion
Attitudes represent the positive and negative evaluations that an individual holds of objects. It is assumed that attitudes encourage individuals to act accordingly. Thus, a taxpayer with positive attitude towards tax evasion is expected to be less compliant than a taxpayer with negative attitudes. Attitudes towards tax evasion are often found to be quite positive (Alabede etal, 2011)). Taxpayers’ attitudes and beliefs about the tax system can affect their propensity to evade tax which led them to involve in aggressive tax planning schemes.
Anna et al, (2008) stated that tax payers’ attitude towards fairness of tax system is important because fairness of the tax system will encourage compliance and lessen tax evasion. Attitudes about the tax system and perceptions of fairness are naturally influenced by what the public actually knows about it. A tax system that is complex, that is poorly understood by both tax administrators and taxpayers, that creates numerous opportunities for corrupt behavior, and that involves coercion in the collection of taxes from reluctant citizens provides a poor basis upon which to build trust between citizens and the government. Hence, complexity of tax system and weak data compilation system are believed to affect the amount of tax to be collected (Anna, et al 2008). Perceived fairness of the tax system will be measured by asking (designated likert scale questionnaires) taxpayers whether they thought the tax they paid was fair given the goods and services they received from the government and when compared to other taxpayers in the same tax bracket. Therefore we can say that taxpayers with positive perception on fairness of the tax system will have fewer tendencies toward tax evasion thereof otherwise (Abera, 2019). Kirchler et.al, (2008) who found that taxpayers attitude towards tax evasion is quite positive and significantly matters the level of tax evasion in an economy. And study conducted by Mulye T. (2015), also found that there is a widespread ethical support for tax evasion in general and concluded that tax evasion is sometimes ethical revealing that taxpayers’ perception towards tax evasion is high when everyone is doing it and the tax system lacks fairness.
Tax compliance cost
Legal factors such as xax compliance cost refers to all the costs borne by businesses and individual taxpayer’s for complying with tax regulation, excluding the costs of the taxes themselves. Therefore high compliance cost may convince taxpayers to evade rather than paying taxes. Complexity of tax system and tax code would results in high tax compliance cost as more time and resources are spent dealing with tax regulations due to taxpayer’s lack of relevant knowledge of tax system (Abera, 2019). Also if taxpayer’s encounter inconveniences, partly from misconduct of the tax officers such as impersonal, insensitive and heartless bureaucratic, this may results in lengthy procedures in paying taxes, creating anxiety and stress, which in turn increases taxpayer’s tax compliance costs (Saxunova and Szarkova, 2018). High compliance cost convinces taxpayers to evade rather than paying taxes. High compliance cost to be incurred for the tax administration purpose would discourage taxpayers to fully comply with tax laws, which convinces taxpayers to opt to evade payment of tax (Abdul etal 2008).
Mary Wairimu, (2015), Ketema T., (2013), Pope and Abdul (2008) found that tax compliance cost is significantly and positively correlated with tax evasion and incurrence of high compliance cost in the form of fees charged by tax consultants and other costs that arise from the complexity of the tax laws convinces taxpayers to evade rather than paying proper taxes to the government.
Effectiveness of tax administration
Tax administration refers to the identification of tax liability based on the existing tax law, the assessment of tax liability, and the collection, prosecution and penalties imposed on reluctant taxpayers. The ultimate role of the tax administration is to render quality taxpayer services and to encourage voluntary compliance of tax laws, and also to detect and penalize non-compliance taxpayers. The extent and success of the Tax Administration in its role should be reflected through a higher level of tax compliance and a lower level of tax evasion. Existence of Corrupt practices by tax officials, shortage of qualified tax personnel’s, lack of competent tax auditors discovering tax evasion in the tax authority weakens the efficiency of tax administration which becomes reason for extensive tax evasion practice.
The first systematic theoretical analysis of tax evasion was done by Allingham and Sandmo (1972), where individuals pays taxes because they are afraid of getting caught and penalized if they do not report all income. The probability of getting caught is higher with a more efficient tax administration. Furthermore, according to Escobari (2012), a more efficient tax administration yields higher tax compliance levels and lower level of tax evasion. Lower tax evasion can be achieved by increasing the number of tax auditors and improving their skills in discovering tax evasion. Both of these theories have shown that the capacity of tax administration is a vital element for fighting against tax evasion. Wilks and Pacheco (2014) also indicated that intentions of taxpayers to comply with tax laws is high and intentions to evade taxes is low when the tax authorities and Administration are perceived as fair and trustworthy as well as deterrence power of the tax authority is high.
Trust in government
Trust in government deals with the level of trust that individual taxpayers and firms have on the government, trust on the utilization of public money collected as tax. Taxpayer’s decision for non- compliance is influenced by the extent that citizens trust their government that means when government organizations that interact directly with citizens in the delivery of public goods and services treat individuals with fairness and impartiality taxpayers are less inclined towards evading taxes. If the authorities cascade different training for taxpayers about tax evasion, taxpayers become reluctant to engage in tax evasion (Rantelangi & Majid, 2018).
Evidences show that people who feel that they have been treated fairly and impartially by an organization will be more likely to trust that organization and be inclined to accept its decisions and follow its directions (Murphy, 2004). As a result, citizens may be willing to finance the state through taxes, and decide not to evade these liabilities.
On the other hand, if a government and tax officials are perceived as corrupt, taxpayers will not trust them and become more inclined towards evading tax (Cummings, Martinez-Vazquez, McKee, &Torgler, 2004). If taxpayers do not have trust in the tax administration to collect taxes fairly, this will increase non-compliance. In addition, if the public lacks trust in the broader government to spend tax revenues collected wisely (lack of rightfulness in the government) and transparency and accountability on tax budget, this will also leads to tax non-compliance. Perception of fairness and trust are important tools for a tax administration in attempting to reduce evasions. The key in establishing trust is to outline the collection of taxes to the population in transparent and responsible manner and emphasize on the perceived fairness of the approaches taken.
Corruption in tax administration
Corruption can be defined as the abuse of public power by government or tax officials for private benefit which includes receiving bribes in exchange for making a benefit available to a member of the public (e.g., a taxpayer) (Patrick &Davina, 2007). Corruption in this study refers to the possibility that bribes taken by tax officials or tax collectors in a way that creates or increases the possibilities of tax evasion. Corruption can be measured by the possibility to which bribes are generally expected by tax officials and/or tax auditors in relation to tax assessment (standard or estimated), trade licenses, and exchange controls (Tanzi, 1998). Opportunities for corruption in revenue administration are affected by the demand from companies and individuals for corrupt actions and the supply by tax officials of corrupt acts. When it is complex and cumbersome to pay taxes, taxpayer’s temptation for corruption as a short cut could arise, to save both time and reduce uncertainty about how much tax to pay. A complex tax system can facilitate corruption in which tax auditors may obtain bribes or inducements from taxpayers by taking advantage of complex rules or exercising the excessive discretion or judgment theyhave because of unclear laws, regulations, and procedures. In the area of taxation, regulations are often so complex that tax payers have great incentives to indulge in corruption. When it is time-consuming and costly to appeal, the taxpayer might resort to corrupt behavior simply to get things done. The higher the probability of being inspected by a corrupt tax auditor reduces declared income and increases deductions and exemptions while increasing tax evasions. If penalties or sanctions imposed by the tax administration on corrupt officials or tax auditors are not sufficiently severe (immediate dismissal and/or criminal charges of corrupt officials) or rarely imposed, this will increase the likelihood of corruption and opens door for extensive corruption. The complexity in the tax laws and procedures increases the magnitude of corruption in the tax system. Tax evasion is more likely to occur in a highly corrupt environment. Lack of requisite information makes taxpayers unaware of their rights and more exposed to discretionary treatment and exploitation.