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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 24 No 2 (2006) Tax Law and Political Institutions

Citizens as Partners? Foundations for an Effective Tax System in the New Democratic Era

Mark Burton is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the Law School, University of Canberra, Australia, and a visiting fellow at REGNET, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. Mark’s recent research has focused on the politics of taxation, with specific reference to promoting active community engagement in the tax legislative process.

Voluntary tax compliance depends on the perceived legitimacy of the tax system. Perceived legitimacy comprises perceived substantive legitimacy (fairness) and perceived procedural legitimacy. This article draws on the literature which records the fact that the perceived legitimacy of government is in decline in modern liberal democracies. Examining Australia’s public institutions with respect to tax system design and tax administration, the author identifies some of the more significant sources of this public distrust within the field of tax law. A number of institutional reforms are proposed which, it is argued, may enhance democratic participation in the review and administration of the tax system. This could revitalise the perceived legitimacy of Austra­lia’s tax system and thereby enhance voluntary tax compliance.

(2006) 24 No 2 Law in Context 169-193

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