- The Public Trust in Tax survey which questioned 7,700 members of the public across the globe shows that accountants have a major role to play in addressing corruption, which negatively impacts attitudes towards tax in economies worldwide.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the survey revealed some compelling insights:
- Respondents from KSA exhibit a high level of trust in politicians and tax authorities, second only to China.
- KSA shows similar levels of trust in business leaders, professional tax lawyers, and NGOs.
- The media and social media are trusted sources in KSA, with only Indonesia and China showing higher trust levels.
- KSA respondents found the process of filing taxes easy and efficient, and the overall system fair, with only Indonesia and China being more positive.
- A significant majority of KSA respondents believe it is appropriate for all groups to arrange their affairs to minimise tax.
- Taxes paid by all groups were viewed as significant contributors to providing services.
- An overwhelming majority support the government providing incentives for various sectors, especially those hit by COVID-19, infrastructure projects, and green energy projects.
Fazeela Gopalani, Head of ACCA Middle East, said: "The findings from Saudi are truly remarkable and underscore the trust residents place in their institutions and systems. This is a testament to the transparent and efficient taxation system that has been established, contributing to a sustainable development agenda."
Results show that globally, 53.8% consider corruption a major factor. However, most people believe the role of professional accountants contributes to improving tax systems by making them more efficient (59%), more effective (57%), and fairer (55%).
The findings follow ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants), and CA ANZ (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand) expanding their biennial G20 Public Trust in Tax survey – which this time omitted Russia and included New Zealand – to address the issues of sustainable development and corruption, and how these interconnect with trust in the tax system.
The results are clear: Corruption has a significant impact on attitudes towards tax in economies across the globe, with over half of G20 respondents citing it as a major factor. At the same time, 68% of respondents in G20 countries see at least some connection between tax and sustainable development, and 57% would be prepared to pay more tax to support it.
In this context, the continued high levels of trust in professional accountants are more important than ever. The results show that they remain the single most trusted stakeholder in tax in every G20 country, as it has been the case in every biennial G20 Public Trust in Tax survey since the initiative began in 2017. Moreover, most people believe the role of professional accountants contributes to improving tax systems by making them more efficient (59%), more effective (57%), and fairer (55%).
The survey reveals the attitudes and opinions of the general public towards their tax systems, and the actors involved in them. The key findings indicate that:
- Trust in key stakeholders has improved in most regions, but there are still significant variations;
- People see tax systems as a mechanism for positive change, but are concerned about corruption;
- People generally think that levels of taxes paid are reasonable.
This year’s survey was launched on 14 September at an online event hosted by IFAC, ACCA, and CA ANZ.
Kevin Dancey, CEO of IFAC, says: “The impact of corruption on trust in tax has been an emerging theme in our recent surveys, particularly in our 2022 Global Perspectives report, which focuses on jurisdictions outside of the G20. Now, for the first time, we have specific data on that point, and the results are illuminating. Taken together with the continued trust in professional accountants, and additional new data on views about sustainable development, insight into the important interconnections between these issues is starting to come into view.”
Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA, says: ‘Throughout the course of these surveys, public unease about how tax money is spent has been a constant theme in respondents’ comments. Perceptions of corruption are a clear barrier to engagement with the tax system. Accountants have a central role to play in countering corruption, bringing transparency and accountability to the collection and spending of taxes across both public and private sectors.’
Ainslie van Onselen, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), says: ‘As leaders in the global accountancy profession, we are proud to see the sustained high levels of trust in professional accountants, which is hard won, but easily lost. It is vital that we constantly work to maintain and earn trust through both our individual and collective actions. Now, more than ever, the relationship between taxpayers, businesses, and governments must be strengthened to provide security and certainty for our broader societies and economies and we look forward to continuing to engage with key stakeholders to drive trust in tax and trust in our profession.
The study is based on an online survey, conducted in the second quarter of 2023, of more than 7,700 individuals across all the G20 countries apart from Russia, plus New Zealand. The sample in each country is balanced by demographics based on census data, including age (targeting individuals of taxpaying age), education, gender, ethnicity, household income levels, and geographic location within the country. Read the report here.
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About Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand represents more than 136,000 financial professionals, supporting them to make a difference to the businesses, organisations and communities in which they work and live. Chartered Accountants are known as Difference Makers. The depth and breadth of their expertise helps them to see the big picture and chart the best course of action. Find out more at www.charteredaccountantsanz.com.
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of 180 members and associates in more than 135 jurisdictions, representing millions of professional accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.
For almost 50 years, IFAC has represented the global profession and supported the development, adoption, and implementation of international standards that underpin the contributions of today’s global accountancy profession. IFAC has maintained a long-term approach to building and strengthening a global accountancy profession that supports transparent, accountable, and sustainable organizations, financial markets, and economies. More information is available on our website: ifac.org