The relationship between taxpayers and tax practitioners is complex, as many diverse aspects shape their interaction. This explains why taxpayers and tax practitioners hold different expectations regarding tax services, leading to an expectation gap between taxpayers and tax practitioners. The primary objective of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the factors that contribute to the expectation gap between taxpayers and tax practitioners in South Africa.
To achieve this primary objective, the Interactive Qualitative Analysis process was used as a research method to identify the factors that contribute to the expectation gap. Data were collected from four different South African focus groups, namely taxpayers, and three separate groups of different types of tax practitioners. Affinities were generated for each focus group, and possible
cause-and-effect relations amongst the affinities were established using theoretical coding. A systems influence diagram was subsequently generated for each group to represent the entire system of influences and outcomes based on the perceptions of that focus group. Meta-themes relating to the key factors were identified by means of a thematic analysis of the affinities in a second coding cycle. These meta-themes led to the development of a conceptual framework of associations that describes the interactive nature of the expectation gap between taxpayers and their tax practitioners. Based on these associations, propositions were generated, and mechanisms and interventions regarding the roles of different groups in reducing the gap were suggested.
A model for reducing the expectation gap was also proposed, based on the main themes that emanated from this study. The overarching theme is communication between taxpayers and their tax practitioners. This theme relates to the remaining six themes. These are capability of taxpayers and tax practitioners, clarity on the nature and scope of tax service, transparency on the fee structure of a tax service, external influences on taxpayers, the collecting agent’s systems and processes and finally incompatible compliance behaviour attitudes between taxpayers and tax practitioners.