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
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, O54working papers series
Date posted: February 22, 2007
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