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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Tim Fogarty and David A. Jones

This article aims to review qualitative research on tax practitioners. US tax professionals have always found themselves in a uniquely ambiguous position. Unlike auditors…

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to review qualitative research on tax practitioners. US tax professionals have always found themselves in a uniquely ambiguous position. Unlike auditors, the espousal of service to the public interest is not constantly articulated. Unlike management consultants, the devotion that practitioners can have to their clients’ interest cannot be unconstrained. Tax practitioners are expected to help clients minimize their tax liabilities, while simultaneously assisting the government collect fair shares of tax revenue. Using semi-structured interviews, the paper examines the nuance of this navigation. Practitioners struggle to serve two masters, albeit imperfectly. The qualitative nature of relationships looms as a disproportionally important factor, often neglected in normative accounts and empirical evaluations

Design and methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews with tax practitioners.

Findings

Practitioners struggle to serve two masters, albeit imperfectly. Where they strike the balance is difficult to predict, as people differ in how aggressive they are willing to be. Practitioners want to be ethical and rarely are willing to take positions that they perceive to be dangerous to their livelihood. The fear of audits is also shared. The qualitative nature of relationships looms as a disproportionately important factor, and one that is not well-appreciated in the literature.

Research limitations/implications

More study of a qualitative nature is needed. Students need to be given a better idea of the conflicts that exist in practice on a daily basis. More work is needed that exposes the importance of the client interface and the limited value of tax research outside of the marketplace.

Practical implications

The long-term relationship with clients is very important to how tax practitioners approach the ambiguities of the tax law. How tax practitioners decide what is worth an investment of their time is under-studied

Social implications

The extent to which we can ask individuals to protect the integrity of the tax collection process is debatable as long as they are compensated by self-interested taxpayers. The limits of ethical codes should be revisited in such a complex world.

Originality/value

Actually listens to working professions describe their world.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2010

Rex Marshall, Malcolm Smith and Robert Armstrong

The resolution of tax issues present significant ethical dilemmas for tax practitioners. The nature and extent of ethical concerns has important implications both for the…

Abstract

Purpose

The resolution of tax issues present significant ethical dilemmas for tax practitioners. The nature and extent of ethical concerns has important implications both for the tax profession and tax administration. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether there are significant differences in the ethical perceptions of tax agents and Big 4 practitioners.

Design/methodology/approach

A mail questionnaire was used to elicit data as to the frequency and importance of a range of ethical issues in tax practice.

Findings

Both groups rated highly those issues which relate primarily to the conduct of professional responsibilities. Ensuring “reasonable enquiries” were taken, maintaining an appropriate level of “technical competence” and “continuing to act” for a client, when not appropriate, were of most concern to practitioners.

Research limitations/implications

The paper focuses on the tax profession in Western Australia, so the outcomes may not be generalisable elsewhere in either Australia or the rest of the Asia‐Pacific region.

Practical implications

There was a significant difference between the two groups with regard to “loophole seeking”. This has implications for client expectations of alternative roles: as “tax exploiter” for the Big 4, and as “tax enforcer/compliance” for the tax agent.

Originality/value

There have been few empirical studies reporting the range of ethical issues encountered in tax practice. To date the literature tends to treat the tax profession as a homogenous group, whereas this research demonstrates differences in ethical outlook between sole‐practitioners and large international public accounting firms.

Details

Asian Review of Accounting, vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1321-7348

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2010

S.G. Nienaber

In an attempt to enhance the core professional values of tax practitioners in South Africa, the South African Revenue Service has proposed the regulation of tax

Abstract

In an attempt to enhance the core professional values of tax practitioners in South Africa, the South African Revenue Service has proposed the regulation of tax practitioners’ services. It is arguable whether or not this would be the only factor to influence the ethical behaviour of tax practitioners. A literature review was conducted to identify factors that could influence the ethical behaviour of tax practitioners. Numerous possibilities emerged. It is therefore recommended that if regulation is to be successful, caution should be exercised in writing a code of best practice for tax practitioners.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1022-2529

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2010

Lai Ming Ling and Nurul Hidayah Ahamad Nawawi

This study aims to examine the ICT skills needed by a fresh accounting graduate when first joining a tax firm; to find out usage of electronic tax (e‐tax) applications in…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the ICT skills needed by a fresh accounting graduate when first joining a tax firm; to find out usage of electronic tax (e‐tax) applications in tax practice; to assess the rating of senior tax practitioners on fresh graduates' ICT and e‐tax applications skills; and to solicit tax practitioners' opinion regarding integrating ICT skills and tax software into a tax course.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey method was used to collect the data. An online survey was distributed to 385 tax practitioners who worked in the accounting/tax firms that participated in the university's internship programs. A total of 112 usable questionnaires were analyzed.

Findings

The survey found that the three most important ICT skills with which fresh graduates should be familiar before graduating were spreadsheet software, word‐processing software, and e‐mail. The result shows that the usage of e‐tax applications is still not pervasive in tax practice. Overall, senior tax practitioners rated fresh accounting graduates' ICT skills as “average”. Both senior (75 percent) and junior (73.7 percent) tax practitioners agreed that ICT skills and tax software should be integrated in the tax course offered by the universities.

Practical implications

This study has provided insights to policy makers and tax educators to revamp the existing tax curriculum, and to introduce learning tax software in classes, and to place more emphasis in imparting ICT skills in tax education.

Originality/value

Scholarly study on tax education and ICT is scant. Little is known about whether the existing tax education is adequate in meeting the needs of the employers in the job market. This paper has emerged to fill a knowledge gap.

Details

Campus-Wide Information Systems, vol. 27 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-0741

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2006

Rex Marshall, Malcolm Smith and Robert Armstrong

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the role of the tax agent as a preparer of tax returns and provider of professional tax advice under a system based on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the role of the tax agent as a preparer of tax returns and provider of professional tax advice under a system based on self‐assessment principles. It recognises the competing pressures under which tax agents attempt to discharge their professional responsibilities, and examines the implications for potentially unethical behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a mail survey of tax professionals in Western Australia. Respondents are presented with realistic tax return scenarios, in which the demands of the client are varied according to the risk of audit, the severity of tax law and the materiality of dollar amounts involved.

Findings

The findings suggest that the severity of tax law violation is an important factor in ethical decision‐making, but that audit risk and the amounts involved are not.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of support for audit risk as an influential variable is an important outcome, because policy makers have traditionally proceeded on the basis that increases in audit probabilities will reduce the likelihood of taxpayers adopting aggressive tax reporting positions. However, since the findings are based on an Australian sample, care must be taken in generalizing these findings elsewhere.

Practical implications

The implications are important in that alternative enforcement and compliance strategies must be considered by tax administrators.

Originality/value

The paper extends empirical research into taxpayer attitudes to those of the preparers of tax returns. The findings will be of relevance both to tax agents and to tax administrators.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1997

Rex Marshall, Malcolm Smith and Robert W. Armstrong

Suggests that, as the UK moves to a system of self‐assessment for determining income tax liability, it is instructive to look at the experience of Australia, where such a…

Abstract

Suggests that, as the UK moves to a system of self‐assessment for determining income tax liability, it is instructive to look at the experience of Australia, where such a system has operated for the last ten years. Reports that the Australian experience identifies significant changes in the operations of accountants, the ethical pressures to which they are subject and the rise of the “tax agent” as a specialized tax practitioner, all of which we might anticipate to be mirrored in the UK.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Book part
Publication date: 18 July 2017

Rebecca Bloch, Gary Kleinman and Amanda Peterson

The purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive theory as to why academic research in accounting is said not to help practice.The authors (1) present a…

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive theory as to why academic research in accounting is said not to help practice.

The authors (1) present a comprehensive literature review in the academic/practitioner gap arena, and (2) develop a theoretical background for it. Further, they identify (3) the different information needs of these groups using value group theory and (4) the inherent factors and personality traits that influence career choice. Next, they (5) evaluate the values of each subgroup. They then (6) theorize what types of accounting research would interest each. They argue that (7) individuals who enter the academy differ from those who enter practice, and (8) the socialization processes and the impact of the professional setting (practice or academe) on behaviors further the separation of academic research from practitioner needs.

This paper is theoretical. It suggests that bridging the gap will be difficult. The study is theoretical. The limitation is that it does not empirically test the relationships hypothesized. By providing a comprehensive model of factors underlying the gap, however, it can be a fruitful source of research ideas for years to come. The implications are that it will be difficult to bridge the gap between accounting practitioners and academics. Having a greater understanding of the causes of the gap, however, may be very useful in fostering thought as to how to overcome it.

Prior literature on the topic is largely atheoretical. This paper is the first to develop a broad theory of the gap.

Details

Parables, Myths and Risks
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-534-4

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Book part
Publication date: 30 September 2019

Laura Clifford, Amanda M. Grossman, Leigh R. Johnson and Wayne A. Tervo

This study examines how Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), as tax practitioners, interpret and apply the ethical tax standards established by the American Institute of…

Abstract

This study examines how Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), as tax practitioners, interpret and apply the ethical tax standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), using a hypothetical situation. Although the authors attempt to determine if CPAs are more likely to apply the substantial authority standard given certain factors affecting both the CPAs and their tax clients, one-dimensional standard threshold applications leave us to interpret only whether these factors affect the CPAs’ decision to sign a tax return upholding an ambiguous position. The authors find that an aggressive CPA (self-reported) is more inclined to sign the return than an unaggressive CPA. The authors also find that favorable prior dealings with the IRS, and awareness that the IRS is not pursuing a contrary position to a certain tax position, both contribute significantly to the CPA’s willingness to sign the return. While an aggressive tax client also fosters willingness to sign, it appears that tax clients with a refund pending (as opposed to a payment pending) are more apt to trigger a signed return. Study results indicate that ambiguities in the tax code, in concert with mitigating CPA/client factors, may lead to significant discrepancies in interpretation and application.

Details

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-370-9

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Book part
Publication date: 20 October 2015

Darius J. Fatemi, John Hasseldine and Peggy A. Hite

This study documents that an outcome-favorable bias is greater when the quantity of information describing a balanced tax-decision context is substantially increased…

Abstract

This study documents that an outcome-favorable bias is greater when the quantity of information describing a balanced tax-decision context is substantially increased. Second, the study demonstrates that an outcome-favorable bias can be offset by the use of principles-based ethical standards. Specifically, we examine the effect of AICPA Code of Conduct Section 54 for integrity and Rule 102-6 for advocacy. Students volunteered to participate in this study examining the manner in which accounting novices initially process principles-based standards. Prior studies using student subjects in an audit setting have found that principles-based standards were effective only when students had high levels of moral reasoning (Herron & Gilbertson, 2004), and rules-based technical standards had no impact on student subjects when making financial adjustments (Pflugrath, Martinov-Bennie, & Chen, 2007). If professional standards increasingly rely on principles-based standards, then understanding the impact of such standards on future entrants into the profession would provide guidance in the creation and implementation of future standards, as well as assist educators in the development of accounting curricula. We extend the pattern of past research to a tax setting and show that tax-saving recommendations are a function of the presence of a professional standard and the level of contextual detail.

Details

Advances in Taxation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-277-1

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Article
Publication date: 11 October 2011

Oskar Henkow and Andreas Norrman

Both logisticians and tax lawyers design global supply chains – but based on different logics. If they do not align each other's perspectives, problems might occur in…

Abstract

Purpose

Both logisticians and tax lawyers design global supply chains – but based on different logics. If they do not align each other's perspectives, problems might occur in different areas. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the impact the tax system could have on supply chain design, reflect (from both perspectives) on how the rules function, and propose a common communication platform for supply chain issues and tax issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This interdisciplinary research is based on a systems approach, combining logistics system descriptions (based on interviews, workshops and company data) with legal analysis. Main principles of the tax system were applied to the system descriptions (the principle approach).

Findings

Logistics and tax systems interact. Issues of implementing drop shipment in different global contexts are shown. One issue is cross‐border rerouting leading to unnecessary environmental impact. Hence interaction between the domains should be improved before starting to optimize global logistics or tax structures. A combined platform for mapping flow charts jointly is proposed.

Practical implications

Practitioners from both domains acquire increased understanding of each other's perspectives and a joint tool for flow mapping, combining facts both sides need in their overall analysis. Logisticians will gain better insight into general fiscal principles.

Social implications

Societal inefficiencies due to extra cross‐border transports instead of drop shipments were the result when the fiscal rules were applied in reality in certain contexts. This was probably not desired from the policy makers' perspective, so it might lead to policy makers to better try to understand the combined impact of the domains.

Originality/value

The paper usefully combines legal and logistics approaches.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 41 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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