A collaborative tax administration: The case of co-operative compliance in Ireland

Bowe, Lucy
Tax administrations worldwide face similar challenges in improving taxpayer services, addressing non-compliance, minimising the administrative burden on taxpayers, and reducing costs. In achieving these goals, tax authorities experience an ongoing tension between coercive and collaborative approaches. The purpose of this study is to develop an in-depth understanding of collaborative tax administration (CTA) in practice through examining an innovative CTA initiative, Co-operative Compliance (CC). CC involves a tripartite relationship consisting of tax authority officials, tax advisors and tax executives in large corporates (i.e. the tax triad). It envisions a move from traditional “command and control” interactions between the three actors to collaborative approaches based on trust and transparency. Situated in the Irish corporation tax context, the three research questions of this study explore 1) how macro institutional pressures have influenced the development of CC; 2) how the competing institutional logics of the tax triad have shaped their responses to CC; and 3) how CC in practice delivers on the tax design principles of certainty, equity and efficiency. While this study addresses the practice of CC in an Irish context, it also considers the broader transnational nature of CC, as an OECD-supported initiative which has been introduced in more than 30 tax jurisdictions worldwide. Adopting a qualitative interpretive approach, this study is informed by documentary data and interviews with all three actors directly engaged in the practice of CC. The study develops a theoretical framework that combines core theoretical constructs and themes from New Institutional Sociology (NIS) and tax literatures, which acts as a powerful explanatory lens through which the findings are interpreted. The findings reveal how transnational governance is resulting in the tax triad experiencing increasingly competing pressures. The study highlights the important institutional role played by the OECD in creating and advocating for the adoption of agreed norms (including CC). The study also unveils the varying responses of the three actors to CC over time, demonstrating a move from more active resistance to less actively resistant responses. The findings reveal the “balancing act” of CC, and the challenges and trade-offs in meeting its objectives in practice. The study contributes to domain theory on CC and CTA, by providing deep insights and understandings of CC in practice, revealing how the key assumptions underlying the CTA approach are perceived and experienced in practice.
NUI Galway
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland