Measuring and Evaluating Trust
It is necessary to have a clear understanding of the areas that need to improve if the Tax Administration is to enhance levels of trust in them and the tax system. This can be achieved by understanding the taxpayers’ perception of the Tax Administration, in general, and of its integral parts such as audit, customer care, communication etc. Research shows that in order to build (and maintain) trust, an understanding of the taxpayers’ perception of the Tax Administration and other public sector organisations is needed. In addition, the willingness of other taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations is an important factor as this will influence the taxpayer’s own behaviour.6.1 Identify areas in need of improvement
The knowledge gained from monitoring and evaluating trust is essential when identifying areas in need of improvement as this will allow Tax Administrations to prioritise what measures and actions are needed, both internally and externally, to build and enhance trust and increase voluntary tax compliance. In the long run this can also serve as an early warning system of a potential increase in non-compliance.
Tax Administrations should consider undertaking periodic, preferably independent, scientifically based, surveys, in areas where these are not currently being carried out. Moreover, when they are undertaken, Tax Administrations should review the questions being asked to ensure they facilitate an analysis of the level of trust taxpayers have in the Tax Administration and the tax system.
To improve transparency, it is possible for Tax Administrations to publish the methodology used in these surveys and the results obtained.
Tax Administrations can use the results from internal or external studies. Some Tax Administrations are currently gathering information from external customer surveys. When other stakeholders and entities measure and evaluate trust, this information could be of use and benefit to the Tax Administration. In order to get the taxpayers true opinion, it is important that that they are encouraged to give negative or sensitive feedback and that their responses are anonymous.
It may be beneficial to explore the measurement of trust across EU Member States as this could assist Member States in benchmarking their ‘trust levels’ against comparable Tax Administrations. This will allow Member States to learn from each other’s experiences. However, such an approach may not take account of the varying maturity of the different tax systems or the local culture and the results might, therefore, not be reflective of the actual position.
It’s important to evaluate and critically review the measures and actions taken to build and enhance trust in order to establish whether they have had the desired effect i.e. increased the levels of trust in the Tax Administration or tax system and therefore increased voluntary tax compliance. This will inform Tax Administrations of what adjustments or adaptions are required to their strategies and programmes. Indeed, the outcome may prompt the Tax Administration to change direction or approach entirely. It is recommended to include metrics to capture and measure levels of trust when a new compliance strategy or programme is implemented. This will enable the Tax Administration to have a clear view of how the trust level has been affected by any new initiative.