Trust in tax is a vital topic, involving a key element of building sustainable economies that work for all. 

This fourth edition of the biennial research has found that while public trust in tax stakeholders is generally strong, there are areas that concern people across the globe, including the impact of corruption and how the tax system can support public policy.  

Why tax matters

Governments rely on tax revenues to fund spending, and the challenges of meeting the Net Zero commitments which many have made, or will make soon, will mean increases in infrastructure spending and support for business and lifestyle changes. Beyond the pure financial impact, we know that taxes can also direct behaviour – and have done so for generations, whether designed to or not. 

Key findings 

Trust in key stakeholders has improved in most regions, but there are still significant variations 

The report examines the trust invested in tax accountants, tax lawyers, government tax authorities, politicians, business leaders, non-governmental organisations, media and social media. 

Respondents told us they trust accountants the most and politicians the least when it comes to tax. The most divisive group though are tax authorities. They have a particular challenge in trying to deal with large numbers of taxpayers who have differing views of them, and must try to appeal to both without alienating either.

People see tax systems as a mechanism for positive change, but are concerned about corruption

Support for incentives to target ‘global megatrends’ such as climate change and the ageing population remains high.

Recognising that many respondents in the past had volunteered views on corruption in their comments on tax systems, this year for the first time we asked directly about corruption and how it affects people’s views on the tax system.

53.8% of respondents report corruption as being a major factor in their attitude to tax, and we found that those concerned people consistently trusted politicians less (and professional accountants and lawyers more) than those who were less concerned. 

People generally think that levels of taxes paid are reasonable

Respondents were more likely to agree than disagree that taxpayer groups were paying a reasonable amount of tax. Perhaps surprisingly, more people think that the taxes paid by multinational companies are reasonable (net 29.5% positive response) than think that the taxes paid by low income individuals are reasonable (net 23.8% positive responses).

Less surprisingly, however, respondents’ comments suggest that the contribution of multinational businesses is unreasonably low, whereas that of low-income individuals is unreasonably high. 

Tax and sustainable economies 

As societies’ expectations of business and governments evolve, so does the role accountants can play in building sustainable economies. New sustainability reporting and assurance standards will support a shift to more sustainable taxes as well as reinforcing the role that businesses play in society beyond simply paying taxes.

A shift to circular economy models could offer the perfect opportunity to highlight the circular impact of tax contributions from all taxpayers, and to explore the scope for moving to a greater proportion of resource use or consumption based taxes.

About the study 

Research for this report was through 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, representing the population in each country with a confidence level of 95% and confidence interval of 5%.

The sample in each country is balanced by demographics based on census data, including age (targeting individuals of taxpaying age), gender, ethnicity, household income levels, and geographic location within the country.

Event launch

ACCA, IFAC and CA ANZ launched the report at an event Building Trust in Tax for a Sustainable Future.