Even though some still deny that the truth cannot be the same for everybody, academic researchers know that the notions of phenomena and events in life are never just black or white, true or false, correct or wrong. Life is much more complicated that that and what is true for one person at a particular point in time, place, and context is seldom still true under different circumstances.
To show how differently we interpret issues and phenomena, I used a one-sentence statement, expressed by means of different paradigms, of how people can interpret and experience the South African tax system.
Behaviourism: The tax burden is heavy on everybody because people do not openly show that they are willing to declare their taxable income and to pay their taxes.
Constructivism: People are unwilling to declare their income and pay their taxes because government does not spend the revenue that they receive responsibly and efficiently.
Critical race theory: People resist paying taxes because the burden is much higher on the minority group than on the majority group.
Critical theory: People resist paying taxes because government, who should manage the process, are often the perpetrators of malpractices.
Empiricism: Only those who pay taxes can judge and improve the tax system.
Ethnomethodology: The economy, education, security, health and legislation of the country is affected by the quality of the tax system.
Feminism: Women should not be subject to the same tax burden as men if they are not given equal social, political, cultural and economic rights.
Functionalism: South Africa will not survive if the tax system is corrupt and poorly managed.
Hermeneutics: A survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults show that the majority of South Africans feel that they pay too much taxes.
Interpretivism: It is assumed that taxes are collected and utilized efficiently because the majority voted for the current government.
Liberalism: Tax collection will be efficient and fair if people are more tolerant towards government.
Modernism: The tax system will be efficient and fair if it is founded on an African culture that will facilitate growth, development and strong leadership.
Neoliberalism: The tax system will be efficient and fair if the state and private sector cooperate and promotes economic liberalization.
Phenomenology: How people feel about paying taxes is largely determined by how they see their tax money being spent and how they feel about their observations.
Positivism: The Receiver of Revenue needs to earn the trust and support of the taxpayers.
Post-colonialism: The poor tax system is the result of colonial rule that denied people an opportunity to develop their own value system and culture.
Post-modernism: People who claim that the tax system if flawed consider only their preconceived ideas of what an efficient and fair tax system is.
Post-positivism: We cannot judge if the current tax system is efficient and fair because there are too many factors impacting on the country and government.
Post-structuralism: What do people mean and from whose perspective are they judging if the tax system if efficient and fair?
Pragmatism: Everybody is dissatisfied with the tax system, but nobody does anything to solve the problem.
Pre-modernism: All we can do to solve the flaws in our tax system is to pray.
Radicalism: Our tax system will be efficient and fair once we stop listening to colonists and old people.
Rationalism: Poor leadership leads to corruption; corruption leads to people not paying taxes; people not paying taxes leads to government levying more taxes; more taxes leads to more corruption.
Relativism: Everybody is entitled to their own opinions about the tax system.
Romanticism: Perhaps the tax system is not perfect, but who are we to judge?
Scientism: I will believe that the tax systems is flawed if it can be statistically proven with a more than 90% probability that it is the case.
Structuralism: The tax system cannot function properly if the economic, social, legislative and political structures do not support it.
Symbolic interactionism: The what and the how of the tax systems need to be communicated as widely as possible before people can judge if the system is efficient and fair.