The Art of Influencing Tax Payers To Pay Their Taxes Obligation

Influencing people is a softskill needed in work environment for every employee in any level of career. This skill is used in many areas of work that in the end will be vital for the success of an organization. By influencing people, we try to make them to do things as we want in a way they never feel pushed. Have you ever imagined how a sales person can make a society trust his/her product and make them bought it? Or what makes a project leader be so successfull to win a tender while the others are not? The answer is Influencing Skill. This skill can provide us an opportunity to change someone’s views, attitude, decisions, perceptions or beliefs to produce an effect on them in a apositive way (Norry, 2009). During my career, I have paid attention on how influencing skill contribute to the success of the attainment of the annual tax amount collected. If this skill is well-mastered by every Fiscus to do their job I am so sure that it will lead into another bigger success of DGT. Influencing skill in this condition refers to the skill of influencing tax payers to pay their taxes correctly and voluntarily without any regulation violated. As we know that paying taxes always be one the things avoided by taxpayers as long as they can make it. It brings consequences. Fiscuses are required to approach tax payers to give an enlighthenment about their obligation to pay taxes. But unfortunately, that is not enough. It takes more than a conventional method or approachment to make them be complied. It involves deeper personal touch to make them feel touched personally. At this point, we are talking about Influencing Skill.

The Principles of Influencing Skills

Terry Gillen on her book listed that influencing skill consist of four skills, namely: 1) probing and listening 2)building rapport 3)selling & 4)assertiveness. Robert Cialdini on his book entitled “Influence: The Phsychology of Persuasuion, said that there are six principles on influencing people namely: consistency, concessus, authority, similarity, reciprocity, and scarcity (these elements are based on the experimental studies). The points made by Terry Gillen are so relevant to be applied in order to build the skill of influencing people. This skill takes nothing but our willingness to listen and appreciate our partner so that we can understand their point of view, this method allows us to encourage them to share their reason or stories that we can use to build our understanding toward them. When we have a complete building or description about our partner we will not miss a puzzle to find out the door we can come into and put our point of view to change theirs. But this will only work if we dedicated our time to listen to them not to ask (probing and listening).

Coming into and changing them is not the end of the tunnel.  To keep the influence remains stayed, we need to put our feet into theirs. It means we need to see and conduct things in the way they do. This condition emerge because of the fact that the level of understanding between us may change as the time passed by. Our partners can loose their understanding, they need to be remembered about every agreement made. In this situation, it is not suggested to take them into the position where they feel cornered or scolded. If this happens, a refreshment of the understanding is positively needed for them. Make them feel that we know and care about the situation they are facing (building rapport). In order to influence someone or a group of society, it is vital to know deeply about things we are trying to offer. Influencing skill is all about making them be important to other parties. This principle is in line with the need to comprehend everyone’s desire and connect it to our offering through deeper and personal discussion that leads to the change of their standing (selling).

Being interactive and attractive to build influence toward people means the influencer has to be assertive. By being assertive, we can make clear point (straightforward) and avoid ambiguity in every sentence we produce. This assertiveness skill is also applied when we, as the influencer, run some tactics to optimize the influence. The tactics involve how to bring something to the table for our partner and how to understand our partner’s character. It is assertiveness that enables us to propose

benefit sincerely as a reason why it is so good to our partner to conduct and see things as we do. The way we communicate these benefits greatly depends on our partner’s character. We need to understand them by tolerating any differences that may appear. That is all about being assertive (assertiveness).

Based on the model that I try to construct, it clearly shows that at the beginning of any communication is always started with kind of natural responses such as: reluctance, distrust, etc even when we try to offer new point of view, good desires and sort of. But applying some methods as presented above can make difference. Through listening carefully to our partners we can understand their point of view and find an entrance to put our idea and bear it better. But in my opinion, this method can not stand by it self. There is a good combination we can apply to make a better result. Influencing skill, sometimes takes several consideration that we can take into account. In this paper those considerations are the items that widely known as “The Six Principles On Influencing People” found in 1984 by Professor Robert Cialdini from Arizona State University, namely: consistency, concessus, authority, similarity, reciprocity, and scarcity.

A good implementation of listening, rapporting, selling, and assertiveness combined with “The Six Principles On Influencing People” is a key to an effective influence skill. Making our partners, whoever they are, are willing to listening, and changing their point of view as a prerequisite to make them influenced positively for a win- win solution to both parties. Because an influencing skill is a skill that everyone needs to learn for their own good today and the future.

How To Influence Tax Payers to Pay Their Tax Obligations

In t2016, I will be a decade to be working in DGT. In the previous office where I worked before going to Jenderal Soedirman University, I play a role as Account Representative and the main job desctiption on this position is reaching annual tax revenue target. It is a difficult job beause I had to be an advisor and supervisor at the same time for tax payers assigned to me. The difficulties came from a reality that I had to persuade tax payers to fulfill their tax obligation. Legally speaking, I had to make them pay their tax honestly and correcty. I found a fact that it is a nature for every tax payers to avoid from paying taxes. Some people considered this condition as obstacles, but the way I see it is simply it is challenge to conquer.

From time to time, I realized that it is not a good way to force tax payers to comply tax regulation without building a good understanding between me and them. In other words, it is better to know and understand their business situation before collecting their taxes. But it is not an usual approachment that required. I try to consider local wisdom from that area into account. It means since we are from various cultural background and life. It is not an option to neglect their culture and local life. I summarize these situations as a guide I can lead to do my job and it ended up a good result. For 19 months I worked as Account Representative I successfully collected almost Rp1.400.000.000,- for tax revenue. All I would like to say that those items I mentioned above is an essence of influencing tax payers to pay their tax obligations. But understanding local wisdom and business situation is not solely the essence eventually because in certain occasion I came back to the principle found by Professor Robert Cialdini namely: consistency, concessus, authority, similarity, reciprocity, and scarcity. Those six items sometimes I inserted in the discussion that I built verbally through written letter or directly (face to face) with tax payers. Here are the items i suggested to be tried when it comes to influence the tax payers to pay their tax obligations.

Business Is Not Always Profitable

Business is like a roller-coster. Sometimes is highly profitable, sometimes it is in its highest adverse. Paying taxes is number 1 reluctance for every tax payers. It only becomes more reluctant to them to do so when their business is not profitable enough. Countered by this situation, I try to build understanding with tax payer that there are some policies they can go through, if their losses make them unable to pay tax. In the same time I inserted some advices that it will be their benefit if they do a good management in taxation (such as: saving or pay on time when income gained) because it avoids them from being punished by DGT.

Referred to Professor Robert Cialdini, especially for the item of: consistency and concessus. Both of these points are possible to be applied because a state of being consistent in paying tax is a good attitude that reflects their goodwill and arousing their reputation become better from time to time. At the same time it is a good chance to show them about how they will be labeled as “the different one” if they do not fulfill their tax obligation as the majority of the tax payers on their proximity had done theirs.

It is clearly informed that altough we encounter difficult situation experienced by tax payers caused by business situation which is not profitable. Still, there is a way to influence them that is by applying two items out of six principles by Professor Robert Cialdini: Concessus and Concistency. Discussion and understanding built by enacting these two principles can make it a positive one. Because the discussion provide a mutual understanding that allows both parties help each other with no force or intimidation.

Understanding the Local Wisdom Can Help

Knowing to whom you are dealing with may provide you with more stuff to be used. In term of influencing people it is a plus point if we know our partners cultural background. Because as we realize that culture takes a great part of one’s life especially on how he/she communicate, perceive, and express their feeling. During my career as Account Representative in Pratama Bangka Service Tax Office located in Bangka Island, I let my self know more about the language and culture of my tax payers. I found it is so helpful that enabled me build good and positive relationship with them easily. That way, it would be easier to me to educate them about tax. I use this condition to invite them to come to educational session carried by my office such as short course, training, and daily routine consultation.

But the effort I made to go that far was started by approaching the authority in that area. My office officially came to the leader to build such a positive and mutual understanding. It becomes important because sometimes, some places put their leader higher than any regulation that might already exist. They take every their leaders’ deed as a role model and their words as an order. This approchment was in line with two of six principles by Professor Robert Cialdini: authority and reciprocity.

Local Wisdom contains some values we never meet before and that is why we need to appreciate their existence and its urgency within the locals’ life. Dealing with tax payers that come from this kind of area takes a good skill to influence the authority by offering a reciprocity principle that can be useful for their life.

Conclusion

Influencing people is a softskill needed in work environment for every employee in any level of career. This skill is used in many areas of work that in the end will be vital for the success of an organization. By influencing people, we try to make them to do things as we want in a way they never feel pushed. including in the term of taxation. Terry Gillen on her book listed that influencing skill consist of four skills, namely: 1) probing and listening 2)building rapport 3)selling & 4)assertiveness. Robert Cialdini on his book entitled “Influence: The Phsychology of Persuasuion, said that there are six principles on influencing people namely: consistency, concessus, authority, similarity, reciprocity, and scarcity (these elements are based on the experimental studies). A good implementation of listening, rapporting, selling, and assertiveness combined with “The Six Principles On Influencing People” is a key to an effective influence skill. In collecting taxes from tax payers, the combination can be fully or partially applied to to create an effective influencing skill. But there are more two conditions that every Fiscus needs to know about. That are it takes an understanding that business is not always profitabel as a consideration before collecting taxes from any business entities and a sufficient knowledge about local wisdom that may exist in certain area.

Bibliography

Norry, Jo. 2009. “Influencing Skills: a how-to guide, or, how to get what you want without making enemies”. SCONUL Focus 48.

Cialdini, Robert. 1984. “Influence: The Phsychology of Persuasion”. Arizone. The United States of America.

Cialdini’s Six Principle of Influence. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article. Accessed on 27 May 2015.

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