Director of Financial College Kerly Randlane defended her PhD studying tax compliance


On May 7, the director of Financial College and the doctoral student of the School of Governance, Law and Society of Tallinn University Kerly Randlane successfully defended her doctoral thesis indicating that the contemporary concept of tax compliance is rather vague and it takes more than mere coercion to ensure the anticipated payment of taxes.


According to Tallinn University, Randlane did not focus on particular taxes but on tax compliance in general. However, all tax authorities generally have the same objective: to collect the revenue while also achieving the highest possible tax compliance and minimising the kind of behaviour that is not tax compliant.

Various studies have shown that a person’s decision to be either tax compliant or not is a complex issue influenced by both economic and non-economic factors and motives. The non-economic factors are considered more important.

In the course of history, the most common measure to ensure tax compliance has involved coercion and threatening. In her doctoral thesis, Kerly Randlane claims that such an approach is ideologically obsolete and people’s tax compliance cannot be explained merely by the implementation of coercive measures.

Randlane’s thesis suggests new principles of a systematic approach to studying tax compliance that allows tax compliance be considered as a whole with all the factors affecting it. On the recommendation of the author, the management and influencing of tax compliance should make use of a feedback system that allows tax compliance be influenced by the input and output operation. The establishment of such systems provides the tax authority with the opportunity to evaluate the influence of various measures on tax behaviour and adjust them, if necessary.

“Thus, the challenge is no longer the question how to ensure the compliance with rules but how to influence tax behaviour so that taxpayers would understand their role in paying taxes and would change their habitual behavioural patterns,” Randlane claims.

The primary focus of the thesis is on tax compliance, its influencing factors and the mutual relationship between the tax authority and taxpayer.

Randlane’s work suggests that in the process of managing and influencing tax behaviour, the selection of strategic measures is increasingly more individual with an important role played by the cooperation between the taxpayer and tax authority.

“It means that they are like cooperation partners working in synergy with a small social distance. If the taxpayer does not break the rules, the tax authority will not interfere in his activities,” Randlane explains. At the same time, the tax compliance strategy requires a broad-based approach combining coercion, service and trust.

Randlane finds that the main contribution of her thesis is the systematic exploration of the factors influencing tax compliance and its integration with practice. The eventual aim of the research, however, is to improve tax collection as a process by improved understanding and development of the taxpayer’s behavioural patterns.

Kerly Randlane’s doctoral thesis is entitled "The Conceptual Underpinnings and Challenges of the Strategies Guiding Tax Compliance Policies".

The public defence of the thesis took place on Tuesday, May 7 at 10 at Tallinn University. The supervisors were professor of Tallinn University Georg Sootla and associate professor Triin Lauri. The reviewers were associate professor of Tallinn University Priit Suve and professor of Saint Petersburg State University Galina Gribanova. The thesis is available on the digital library website of Tallinn University Library ETERA.


The press release by Kertu Kula, research communication specialist of Tallinn University

Congratulations once again to our new doctor!