EDUCOLOGICAL APPROACH TO TAX LITERACY: ASSUMPTIONS AND PERSPECTIVES IN LITHUANIA

Gediminas Valantiejus

Abstract


This article provides an overview of the concepts of tax culture and tax literacy as specific social phenomena that characterize the state’s tax system. It analyses the theoretical assumptions about their formation and the influence of tax literacy on effective tax administration. The article also describes the main educological factors that determine tax culture and literacy: according to the insights of foreign and Lithuanian authors, and the provisions established in educational legislation, these factors are identified as taxpayer education, adult learning and civic education, and the formation of life skills and awareness among children, including their economic and financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills and citizenship education. The paper also presents the results of empirical research, which was based on a survey of firstyear students, who are studying at the Mykolas Romeris University, and analyses the collected data (the answers to the survey questionnaire). The analysed data is used to provide insights on the practical integration of tax literacy development elements into the formal and non-formal types of education. In addition, the study examines trends of their implementation in Lithuanian general education schools, which provide primary, basic and secondary education services (i.e. schools which do not provide higher education and do not have the status of the university or college).
The theoretical analysis points to the conclusion that the Republic of Lithuania has not yet developed a strategy for exactly how it should foster tax literacy among children. Individual elements that are important for this process are split between a variety of subjects included in the content of general education (primary, basic and secondary education which is provided to the pupils from 6 to 19 years old) programs (such as civic, economic and entrepreneurial education, and legal education). In addition, research into national legislation and documents on education shows that, on a theoretical level at least, the development of tax literacy as part of the national education system is far more focused on the general familiarization of pupils with the current tax system than on them forming a positive attitude towards it. Studies by various authors in the past five years show that the level of tax literacy among students and pupils in Lithuania is quite low and that payment of taxes is not usually identified as associated with citizenship, nationality or patriotic values.
The data from the questionnaire survey which was carried out among the firstyear students studying at the Mykolas Romeris University, show that based on the answers of respondents, no tax-literacy development activities took place in more than a third (41 percent) of Lithuanian schools, which provides general education (i.e. in the schools were the students have studied before entering the university). literacy have taught only general aspects of tax literacy (such as an introduction to how the tax system works) and have put less emphasis on practical topics (such as tax declarations and calculation). The results of the survey have shown that, at a practical level, features of tax literacy are mainly covered in lessons on economics and entrepreneurship (they are included in the curriculum of those subjects, which in Lithuania are taught to the pupils studying in 9th and 10th grades of secondary schools as alternatively selected subjects). To raise the level of tax literacy among pupils, it is therefore suggested that these subjects should be included in the programs of general education as mandatory subjects, rather than optional ones like it is at present time.

Keywords


tax culture, tax literacy, tax administration, taxpayer education, general education, children‘s life skills, civic education, entrepreneurship education

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/SMS-16-8-1-6

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236