Advice and complexity in tax planning judgments

  • Author / Creator
    Pinto, Odette M.
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • School of Business
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Gibbins, Michael (School of Business)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Gibbins, Michael (School of Business)
    • Gagne, Christina (School of Business)
    • Cooper, David (School of Business)
    • Jamal, Karim (School of Business)
    • Magro, Anne (George Mason University - external examiner)