- The G20 Public Trust in Tax report, released in January 2019, surveyed more than 8400 people across 20 nations in the G20 plus New Zealand.
- Most people surveyed (69%) support international cooperation on tax policy to create a more coherent system, but 58% do not trust politicians to do it.
- According to the survey, tax authorities in China, India and Indonesia are the most trusted, while those in New Zealand and Australia rank seventh and ninth respectively.
By Stuart Ridley
Across the world’s richest nations, ordinary people want more done to improve transparency and reduce inequality and complexity within taxation systems. And while they don’t trust politicians to do it, they have faith professional tax accountants will play their part.
That’s one of the key findings of G20 Public Trust in Tax, a report co-authored by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the International Federation of Accountants, released in January 2019. The report is based on survey responses from more than 8400 people across 20 nations in the G20 plus New Zealand.
Tax professionals more trusted than politicians
“Citizens across G20 countries are concerned about transparency, complexity and inequity in tax systems. However, they are also aware of the international tax landscape and understand the need for trade-offs in tax policy. In tackling these issues, people say they trust and want to hear more from experts and professionals, but have grown sceptical of politicians and the media,” say the report’s authors.
Most people surveyed (69%) support international cooperation on tax policy to create a more coherent system. But what groups involved in the tax system are most trusted to do that?
More than half the respondents (58%) say they distrust politicians, which is an issue as politicians are the key decision-makers on tax policy. Politicians in New Zealand rank 9th out of the 20 countries surveyed for perceived trustworthiness on tax matters, while Australia’s rank 11th. Politicians in China are the most trusted.
In the countries surveyed, people put the most trust in professional tax accountants (55%), closely followed by professional tax lawyers (50%), and then non-government organisations (37%) to help provide effective custodianship of tax systems.
Most people rate professional accountants highly for their work in helping improve tax systems, including making tax systems more efficient (57%), more effective (56%) and more fair (51%). Professional accountants in Australia and New Zealand rank 6th and 7th respectively for net trust on helping taxpayers as well as advising on tax policy.
But people are conflicted in their trust of government tax authorities: 37% say they trust or highly trust the tax authorities, while 34% say they distrust or highly distrust them.
According to the survey, tax authorities in China, India and Indonesia are the most trusted, while those in New Zealand and Australia rank seventh and ninth respectively.
“Citizens across G20 countries are concerned about transparency, complexity and inequity in tax systems.”
What the public thinks about the tax system
Citizens feel they’re in the dark about who isn’t paying tax and why.
Many respondents say they face uncertainty and rising costs around doing their tax.
Taxpayers are very concerned about tax rules not being fairly applied. Many respondents believe high-income earners and multinational organisations don’t pay enough tax. Less than 2% of respondents in Australia and New Zealand believe individual taxpayers with the highest incomes are paying enough in taxes.
Corruption within the tax system is a top concern in Argentina, Brazil and South Africa.