The distribution of individual personal tax compliance costs in the UK

Laurence Mathieu, Catherine Waddams Price, Francis Antwi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Governments are committed to reducing the regulatory burden on business and individuals, while at the same time transferring many tasks from bureaucrats. One such example is tax compliance where self-assessment (SA) has raised concerns that such transfers may place a particularly heavy burden on lower income and elderly taxpayers. This is the first study since its introduction into the UK in 1996 of the regulatory burden, which SA imposes on individuals. We identify both the total compliance burden and its components for individuals who might be expected to incur high compliance costs because they pay tax on nonbusiness employment income. We use a specially designed questionnaire and find that within this group the burden seems to have increased by less than 25%. Compliance costs are regressive, but do not impinge disproportionately on the elderly. The compliance burden is determined by income, occupation, education (but not specifically in accounting subjects) and difficulty in attending to tax affairs, indicating some possibilities for reducing these compliance costs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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