Taxpayers engage widely with tax practitioners for various reasons, like filing accurate tax returns and/or minimising their tax liabilities. This relationship may influence tax compliance behaviour, although it is still unclear to what extent each party contributes to this. International research shows that taxpayers prefer a conservative tax approach, while others may insist on a more aggressive approach. Research available in South Africa on this issue is limited. South African small businesses are growing enterprises and various tax reliefs apply to them. These entities, on the other hand, do not necessarily have skilled tax staff and therefore make extensive use of tax practitioners’ services. Studies on this tax practitioner/client relationship are therefore relevant in order to increase the existing knowledge of taxpayer compliance behaviour. The first objective of this study is, therefore, to determine whether small business taxpayers prefer to receive conservative or aggressive advice from their tax practitioners. A second objective is to determine whether small business taxpayers would continue to make use of the services of their tax practitioners if they disagreed with the proposed tax approach. Using questionnaires, the data was obtained from 50 small businesses in a rural town in South Africa. The results show that when asked directly which type of tax advice they preferred, the majority of small business taxpayers indicated that they would rather receive conservative advice. On the other hand, it appeared that they would prefer aggressive advice when the deductibility of an ambiguous expense was in question. The results also showed that small business taxpayers tended to agree with the tax practitioner, irrespective of the type of tax advice offered. The results also showed that they would mostly, as long as it did not relate to tax evasion, retain the services of a tax practitioner despite the type of advice they were given and whether or not they agreed with it. The conclusion drawn was that taxpayers in the small business sector prefer, to a great extent, to receive conservative tax advice from their tax practitioners and that they want to file accurate tax returns. The regulation of tax practitioners is therefore crucial, as taxpayers rely heavily on their information when it comes to tax compliance. Copyright
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2010.