THE CONCEPT OF TAX CULTURE IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
In the last few years countries have been struggling to meet their objectives of protecting common goods and providing public services. The race – to the-bottom approach, accompanied with narrow tax bases, low tax rates and number of tax incentives, started to fail to achieve its main purpose i.e. to generate additional revenues in order to boost economic growth and development. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic, the global political tensions, the energy crisis, low levels of GDP per capita, low level of domestic savings and low levels of domestic investments, have put some additional pressure on central budgets. Due to these circumstances, governments are making more efforts to mobilize the much needed revenues from constant own resources that rely heavily on taxes.
Taxes are the most important mechanism for normal states` functioning, for reaching sustainable development and for realizing redistributive justice. It is strongly believed that governments could accomplish these goals by ensuring efficient tax regime and forming an educated and cultured taxpayer meaning a person who is ready to correctly and rationally fulfill their tax obligations, perceiving it as their civil duty.
Tax culture is a multilateral phenomenon that is determined by several of economic, social, historical and psychological factors. Although first time investigated by J. Schumpeter more than 70 years ago, theorists and tax practitioners agree that the concept of tax culture is very interesting and important topic, but rarely found in the literature. Since the very first beginnings, the concept of tax culture was dominantly perceived from a tax authorities` point of view. However, having in mind its contemporary definition, the taxpayers and the relation between taxpayers and tax authorities also account. Accordingly, tax culture is more than “culture of taxation”’ and “tax-paying culture” and studies the motives which impact on voluntary tax compliance, establishes tax mentality, tax morals and tax discipline, and examines the ethical issues of combat against tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Nowadays, the most challenging tax issues worldwide are the tax avoidance, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning, and harmful tax practices. The international community has realized that one alternative to give a proper and efficient response to these problems toward voluntary tax compliance is the tax culture where the citizens see paying taxes as giving their fair share to society. There is no doubt that there is not any country where people are happy to pay taxes, but they do because of their tax culture. In order to straighten the tax culture as set of values, beliefs and attitudes in respect to taxation, countries should take actions in two directions. First, to create more transparent and accountable tax system where the citizens would be inform on the way their money paid as taxes are spent and what they receive as public good in return. And second, to develop and implement innovative and modern educational programs (like seminars, publications, the use of new technology in collecting taxes, e-tax, mobile tax vans, etc.) as a mean to improve the awareness of the tax benefits between the current taxpayers and the children and youth as future taxpayers.