Original Research

Obstacles encountered by tax practitioners

Mphagahlele O. Ndlovu, Daniel P. Schutte
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 17, No 1 | a867 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v17i1.867 | © 2024 Mphagahlele O. Ndlovu, Daniel P. Schutte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2023 | Published: 08 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mphagahlele O. Ndlovu, Department of Financial Intelligence, College of Accounting Sciences, University of South Africa, Tshwane, South Africa
Daniel P. Schutte, School of Accounting Sciences, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Orientation: Tax practitioners (such as accountants and bookkeepers) are important enablers of tax compliance. Taxpayers, particularly small businesses, look to tax practitioners for expert advice because of increasingly complex tax legislation.

Research purpose: There is a dearth of studies specifically highlighting the challenges faced by tax practitioners, with most studies focusing on the problems faced by taxpayers or tax administrators instead. The purpose of this article is to understand the obstacles encountered by tax practitioners with their small business clients towards improving compliance and revenue collection.

Motivation for the study: Small businesses constitute a sizeable portion of tax practitioners’ clients in South Africa. However, not much is written about the obstacles tax practitioners encounter in their journey of assisting small businesses with tax compliance.

Research approach/design and method: The study employed a qualitative research approach through the utilisation of semi-structured interviews.

Main findings: Tax practitioners are often not able to charge market-related rates from their small business clients. Small businesses struggle to maintain the data required to file tax returns. Furthermore, tax practitioners experience pressure from dealing with historical tax matters. Lastly, tax practitioners are sometimes faced with resistance from their small business clients wherein they cooperate with tax practitioners albeit begrudgingly.

Practical/managerial implications: Through awareness, policymakers and small business owners can help lessen these obstacles.

Contribution: This article adds to the body of knowledge, obstacles encountered by tax practitioners in their journey of assisting small businesses with tax compliance.


interpretive phenomenology; obstacles; small businesses; SME taxation; tax practitioners.

JEL Codes

H25: Business Taxes and Subsidies; M48: Government Policy and Regulation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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