This study investigates the tax evasion practices in a lower-middle income economy in South Asia, with specific reference to Bangladesh (which is the only economy within South Asia that had consistent 6% and above gross domestic product (GDP) growth from 2011 to 2013). This study adopted mixed methodology (documentary analyses and a focus group interviews with 20 participants) to reach the overall objective of the research. Using Hofstede et al.’s (2010) cultural theory, the contribution of the study is that the cultural dimension itself cannot correspond to the causes of tax evasion, the other institutional factors (e.g., political connectedness in both private and public sectors, multinational companies (MNC)’s role and corruption, and a lack of public sector accountability and enforcement) are needed to complement the causes of tax evasion. The second major contribution is that Hofstede’s last two dimensions (i.e., short-term and restraint society) can correspond to the preliminary four dimensions (i.e., uncertainty avoidance (UA), masculinity, power distance (PD), and individualism). A restraint society such as Bangladesh is short-term oriented and has established corruption norms and secretive culture. There is also a perception by corporate business that the tax system as unfair and this has major consequences for the poor and the level of trust between the tax authorities and the taxpayers. This study also questions Hofstede’s model application in other developing economies with military and democracy political regimes. The major policy implications include Income Tax Ordinance, the reform of tax administration and enforcement. The novelty of this study rests in the fact that the findings may well inform local and international policymakers (e.g., World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)) regarding how to tackle tax evasion practices in lower-middle income economies like Bangladesh. Further, it fills a gap in the literature exploring tax evasion in a lower-middle income economy – in this case, Bangladesh.
The author gratefully acknowledges the editor, Professor Cheryl R. Lehman, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. The author also acknowledges sincere support from the Rector (Dr. Ahmed S. Yamani), Prince Sultan University, Saudi Arabia.
Nurunnabi, M. (2017), "The Myth of Tax Evasion in South Asia: The Case of a Lower-Middle Income Economy", Parables, Myths and Risks (Advances in Public Interest Accounting, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-133. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1041-706020170000020005
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