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The Ethics of Tax Evasion: Two Empirical Studies of Puerto Rican Opinion


Robert W. McGee


Fayetteville State University

Silvia López Paláu


University of Puerto Rico

February 2007


Abstract:     
In 1944, Martin Crowe, a Catholic priest, wrote a doctoral dissertation titled "The Moral Obligation of Paying Just Taxes." His dissertation summarized and analyzed 500 years of theological and philosophical debate on this topic, which identified three basic philosophical positions on the issue. Since Crowe's dissertation, not much has been written on the topic of tax evasion from an ethical perspective.

The present paper consists of two empirical studies. The goal of the first study is to determine the strength of the 15 arguments justifying tax evasion that Crowe identified plus 3 more recent arguments. A survey was constructed using a seven-point Likert scale that included all three positions and all 18 arguments and distributed to students at a university in Puerto Rico. The 18 arguments were ranked in terms of strength, from strongest to weakest. Comparisons were also made between male and female responses and between accounting student and law student responses.

The second study analyzes some empirical data from a much larger study of human beliefs and values. Data for that study were gathered by face-to-face interviews. The questions and methodologies were different and the results of the two studies are not strictly comparable. However, a comparison of the two studies does provide a more complete view of Puerto Rican opinion regarding the ethics of tax evasion.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: tax evasion, ethics, Puerto Rico, Caribbean, gender, age, religion

JEL Classification: D6, E62, H26, J16, J14, J1, K34, K42, M14, M4, O54

working papers series


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Date posted: February 22, 2007  

Suggested Citation

McGee, Robert W. and López Paláu, Silvia, The Ethics of Tax Evasion: Two Empirical Studies of Puerto Rican Opinion (February 2007). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=964048 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.964048

Contact Information

Robert W. McGee (Contact Author)
Fayetteville State University ( email )
School of Business and Economics
Fayetteville, NC 28301
United States
Silvia López Paláu
University of Puerto Rico ( email )
Ponce De Leon Ave.
Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, 00931-3300
Puerto Rico
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