Kang, Minjo, & Pyounggu Baek (2017). A Q-methodological analysis of Korean taxpayers’ motivational postures of tax compliance from tax practitioners’ viewpoints. Korean Journal of Business Administration, 30(5), 737-763. [Korean]

English Abstract: The study analyzes Korean taxpayers’ motivational postures by applying Q-methodology to tax practitioners. Social representation theory posits that interactions of social entities determine subjective beliefs and attitudes toward social institutions. Tax practitioners, who observe the behavioral responses of both taxpayers and tax authorities, provide behavioral tax researchers with unique opportunities to explore taxpayers’ motivational postures with regard to taxpaying as well as tax enforcement. Drawing on Q-methodology, we have developed 30 statements (Q-sample) based on five motivational postures by Braithwaite (2003a, 2003b), which consist of commitment, capitulation, resistance, disengagement, and game playing. Twenty members of KICPAs (Korean Institute of Certified Public Accountants) (P-sample) participated in the current study and we derived 4 types of distinguishable viewpoints on Korean taxpayers’ motivational postures of tax compliance. Type 1 is referred to as ‘distrustful taxpayers in taxpaying and tax authority’, which reveals negative perceptions about both of taxes and tax officers. Type 1 represents the combination of supporting ‘disengagement’ and opposing to ‘commitment’ among motivational postures. Type 2 is referred to as ‘faithful taxpayers’ who exhibit trust in the tax system, and accept taxpaying as a moral obligation. They disagree with those who are suspicious of the good will of tax authorities and willing to challenge them. Type 2 represents the combination of supporting ‘commitment’ and opposing to ‘resistance’ among motivational postures. Type 3 is referred to as ‘resistant tax avoiders’ who have shown ambivalent attitudes about disengagement while they agree and disagree to the disengagement at the same time. It is noted that resistant tax avoiders are skeptical of reciprocal relationship between taxpayers and tax authorities, and seek to minimize their taxes. Type 3 represents the combination of ‘resistance’ and ambivalent ‘disengagement’ among motivational postures. Type 4 is referred to as ‘practical-interest seeking tax avoiders’ who are willing to exploit the loophole of tax laws and dispute over the interpretation and application of tax law provisions, disagreeing with those who are disengaged from the tax system. Type 4 represents the combination of supporting ‘game-playing’ and opposing to ‘disengagement’ among motivational postures. The study discovers Korean taxpayers’ varying motives and attitudes underlying their tax compliance behavior by adapting motivational postures theory which reveals differential compliance intentions behind taxpaying behavior, and by applying Q methodology to tax practitioners who have sufficient knowledge to evaluate average taxpayers’ social representations about taxes. As an attempt to utilize various methodologies in tax accounting as well as behavioral tax research, the study is a pioneering work applying Q methodology to tax practitioners in order to gain better understanding of taxpayer compliance. By providing a new insight into coexistence of varying motivational postures inside an individual taxpayer, we contribute to the tax literature exploring differential motives and attitudes that determine taxpayer compliance. Moreover, the policy implication of the study lies in establishing a guideline which can help devise effective tax enforcement strategies in relation to taxpayers’ motivational postures based on responsive regulation paradigm.

Minjo Kang is in the Department of Accounting, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

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