The knowledge of, and the attitude towards, taxation of South Africans
Myers, Graham Trevor
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In conversation, people often base their arguments on the assumption that the knowledge that one has about a subject influences one’s attitude about that subject. From this they deduce that education would alter the attitude that people have towards that subject; taxation is no different. Its complexity and equity are often used as major points of discussion. This researcher chose to study income tax to determine if the knowledge that South Africans have of taxation in general influences their attitude towards taxation. It also determined which biographical details of people in South African influence their knowledge of, and their attitudes towards income tax. It also tried to lay a foundation for future students in this field broad field of accounting who may continue this investigation so as to build a knowledge base of the subjects in the accounting fields. A questionnaire was designed by asking registered master’s students in taxation to determine the major questions to be asked about the various taxation acts to establish their knowledge and attitudes. The additional information about other types of taxation was to be used in future research. These questions were discussed by all full-time staff and the questionnaire was limited to 20 questions in each category. A pilot study was then undertaken after which questions were further refined or deleted. The population consisted of all the people living in South Africa. Within each of the nine provinces in South Africa a convenience sample was chosen. To each of these members of the sample a self-administered questionnaire was given. The raw data was captured using SPSS and then analysed extensively. The results showed that knowledge of income tax was affected by age, race, and level of education, type of occupation the person is in, the province a person lived in and the income they earned. Attitudes towards income tax were affected by age, race, occupation of the person, the province they come from and the income they earned. The research indicated that there was relationship of 40 to 49 percent between the various biographical details of people in South African and the knowledge that they had of various sections of income tax act. There was also a 29 to 33 percent relationship between the biographical details of people in South Africa and the attitudes they have towards various statements about income tax. There was a 20 to 30 percent relationship between the knowledge that respondents had of income tax and their attitude towards income tax.