The authors gratefully acknowledge helpful comments made on earlier drafts of this paper by Wayne Gumley, Bill Orow, Adrian Sawyer, Lin-Mei Tan and Ian Wallschutzky, as well as participants at the Australasian Tax Teachers' Association Conference, Canberra, February 1999, and the Accounting Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Cairns, July 1999. Special thanks are due to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.
The Readability of Australia's Taxation Laws and Supplementary Materials: An Empirical Investigation
Article first published online: 2 FEB 2005
Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 321–349, September 1999
How to Cite
Smith, D. and Richardson, G. (1999), The Readability of Australia's Taxation Laws and Supplementary Materials: An Empirical Investigation. Fiscal Studies, 20: 321–349. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.1999.tb00016.x
- Issue published online: 2 FEB 2005
- Article first published online: 2 FEB 2005
- plain language
Australian taxation law has been criticised for many years for its difficulty to read and understand. The Tax Law Improvement Project (TLIP) was established in December 1993 to rewrite in plain language Australia's income tax legislation. The primary purpose of this study is to test empirically the effectiveness of attempts at simplifying the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 as amended. The study utilises empirical measures in analysing the level of readability of Australia's taxation laws. In doing so, it builds on earlier research, which applied similar methods in examining the New Zealand taxation simplification process. It was found that the sections of Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 sampled were slightly more readable than corresponding sections of Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 as amended, which is consistent with Wallschutzky's (1995) findings. Nevertheless, the results fall well short of acceptable bench-marks, suggesting that the goal of simplification has not been achieved.