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Does religious perspective influence tax non-compliance? Evidence from Yemen

Lutfi Hassen Ali Al-Ttaffi (College of Administrative Science, Seiyun University , Seiyun, Yemen)
Hijattulah Abdul-Jabbar (Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz School of Accountancy, Universiti Utara Malaysia , Sintok, Malaysia)
Saeed Awadh Bin-Nashwan (College of Administrative Sciences, Seiyun University , Seiyun, Yemen)

International Journal of Ethics and Systems

ISSN: 2514-9369

Article publication date: 25 January 2021

Issue publication date: 3 April 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to enhance the understanding of tax non-compliance behaviour of owner-managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Yemen. Drawing on the behavioural perspective and not on the Sharia per se, this study investigated the perspectives of Muslims towards government’s right to impose tax, summarised in three categories: forbidden, permissible and permissible under certain conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

This study was conducted using a self-administered survey to collect the required data from a sample of 500 SMEs in Yemen. Non-compliance is measured in terms of a single hypothetical tax scenario covering four types of tax situations. Yet, Muslims’ perspective towards the government’s right to impose tax was measured using the three perspectives stated above.

Findings

As the major finding, Muslims’ perspective towards taxation has a significant influence on their likely tax compliance behaviour. Specifically, the taxpayers who believed that tax is totally permissible (i.e. the government has the right to impose tax) were more compliant than those who believed that tax is totally forbidden. Furthermore, taxpayers’ non-compliance decisions are statistically related to tax rate and penalties.

Practical implications

The findings could serve as a useful input for taxation policy and strategy in Yemen. It is recommended that government should stress the importance of paying tax as a citizen’s obligation and also emphasise the religious legality of taxation, as it is used for public purposes.

Originality/value

This study differs from the existing literature in that its empirical investigation scrutinises the effect of citizens’ perspectives towards taxation on their non-compliance behaviour within the Islamic religion itself, particularly, in a typical Muslim community such as Yemen. The study is pioneer in adopting the views of different scholars on the government’s right to collect taxes based on three religious views (forbidden, permissible and permissible under certain conditions), which were used for measurement.

Keywords

Citation

Al-Ttaffi, L.H.A., Abdul-Jabbar, H. and Bin-Nashwan, S.A. (2021), "Does religious perspective influence tax non-compliance? Evidence from Yemen", International Journal of Ethics and Systems, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 222-244. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOES-04-2020-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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