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Game playing with tax law

CollectionsANU Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI)
Title: Game playing with tax law
Author(s): Braithwaite, Valerie
Reinhart, Monika
McCrae, Jason
Publisher: Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI), Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Australian Taxation Office
Series/Report no.: Research Note (Centre for Tax System Integrity, Australian National University); no. 8
This research note selects out those people who admit to entering into a spirit of game playing with tax law and compares them on a range of variables with those who do not identify with this posture. Game playing is a posture that people adopt toward the tax office that signals a lack of deference to the authority, although there may still be respect for being law-abiding in the technical sense (Braithwaite, 2003). Game playing is an attitude that individuals acknowledge having. As such it is slightly different from the game playing behaviour that McBarnet observes among those people who use loopholes in the law to avoid tax (McBarnet and Whelan, 1999). The point being made here is that attitude and behaviour are conceptually distinct: After all, we might like to do many things that we don’t have the money to actually do. In this particular instance, however, having a game playing attitude and engaging in game playing behaviour are shown to be significantly related. A lot of people seem able to do what they would like to do. (This is not so in other areas of taxation compliance: see Braithwaite, 2003). The attitude of game playing is measured through combining responses to the following items: “like to find the grey area of the tax law,” “give the tax office a run for their money,” “enjoy spending time working out how changes in the tax system will affect them,” “enjoy talking to friends about loopholes in the tax system,” and “enjoy minimising the tax they have to pay.” Respondents indicated how much they were like this using a 1-5 rating scale for each item. Average scores were then calculated across items. If a respondent scored above the midpoint in the year 2000 (CHFAS) or 2002 (ATSFS), that person was coded as “game playing.” If not they were coded in the “never” category.


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