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Advice and complexity in tax planning judgments Open Access


Other title
tax professionals
timing of advice
task complexity
time pressure
tax plans
tax planning
public accounting firms
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pinto, Odette M.
Supervisor and department
Gibbins, Michael (School of Business)
Examining committee member and department
Gagne, Christina (School of Business)
Cooper, David (School of Business)
Jamal, Karim (School of Business)
Magro, Anne (George Mason University - external examiner)
Gibbins, Michael (School of Business)
School of Business

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Tax planning is a core service provided by tax practices of public accounting firms. Performing this service well is important to the firms, their clients and the tax professionals involved. This study experimentally examines the effects of supervisory advice on the judgment of tax professionals performing tax planning tasks of different complexity, in the presence of the tax contextual features of accountability and time pressure, and finds that such advice is not necessarily helpful to performance. The advice, task complexity and accountability literatures are used in framing arguments and developing hypotheses, which propose that the timing of advice and the complexity of the task interact, so that advice is not necessarily beneficial. The study also draws on the behavioral tax, audit and accounting literatures. Discussions with senior tax practitioners indicate that supervisory advice is usually given to tax professionals before they commence tax planning tasks. The results of this study support the hypotheses and demonstrate that this practice of giving advice may not improve performance in a tax planning task and may even be detrimental. First, the results indicate that the giving of advice by a supervisor should be conditional on task complexity. Supervisory advice is beneficial for a higher-complexity task but detrimental to a lower-complexity task. Second, the timing of when any advice is provided is important. Although advice is beneficial for the higher-complexity task, the results indicate that when advice is given before the tax professional commences the task it interferes with the processing of information and insightful judgments. The giving of advice after the tax professional has thought through the task and prepared a tentative solution results in better performance for this more complex task.
License granted by Odette Pinto ( on 2010-01-29T20:48:19Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Advice and Complexity in Tax Planning Judgments
File title: Advice and Complexity in Tax Planning Judgments
File author: Odette Pinto
Page count: 125
File language: en-US
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