Jewish Perspectives on the Ethics of Tax Evasion

By McGee, Robert W.; Cohn, Gordon M. | Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, July 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Jewish Perspectives on the Ethics of Tax Evasion


McGee, Robert W., Cohn, Gordon M., Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues


ABSTRACT

The ethics of tax evasion has been discussed sporadically in the theological and philosophical literature for at least 500 years. Martin Crowe wrote a doctoral thesis that reviewed much of that literature in 1944. The debate revolved around about 15 issues. Over the centuries, three main views evolved on the topic.

This paper begins with a review of the literature and identifies the main issues and summarizes the three main viewpoints that have emerged over the centuries. It then reports on the results of two surveys of members of the Jewish faith who were asked their opinions on the ethics of tax evasion. The results of the two surveys were then compared. Male scores were also compared to female scores to determine if the responses differed by gender.

INTRODUCTION

The vast majority of articles that have been written about tax evasion have been written from the perspective of public finance. They discuss technical aspects of tax evasion and the primary and secondary effects that tax evasion has on an economy. In many cases there is also a discussion about how to prevent or minimize tax evasion. Very few articles discuss ethical aspects of tax evasion. Thus, there is a need for further research, which the present study is intended to partially address.

As part of this study a survey instrument was developed based on the issues that have been discussed and the arguments that have been made in the tax evasion ethics literature over the last 500 years. Similar survey instruments were used to test sample populations in Romania, Guatemala and a few other countries that will be mentioned later in this paper. The present study reports on the findings of a survey that was distributed to undergraduate Orthodox Jewish students at a branch of Touro College in New York. The results of the present study are also compared to the findings of a human values study that touched on the ethics of tax evasion (Inglehart et al, 2004).

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Although many studies have been done on tax compliance, very few have examined compliance, or rather noncompliance, primarily from the perspective of ethics. Most studies on tax evasion look at the issue from a public finance or economics perspective, although ethical issues may be mentioned briefly, in passing. The most comprehensive twentieth century work on the ethics of tax evasion was a doctoral thesis written by Martin Crowe (1944), titled The Moral Obligation of Paying Just Taxes. This thesis reviewed the theological and philosophical debate that had been going on, mostly within the Catholic Church, over the previous 500 years. Some of the debate took place in the Latin language. Crowe introduced this debate to an English language readership. A more recent doctoral dissertation on the topic was written by Torgler (2003), who discussed tax evasion from the perspective of public finance but also touched on some psychological and philosophical aspects of the issue.

Walter Block (1989; 1993) sought in vain to find a justification for taxation in the public finance literature. He examined a number of textbooks but found all justifications for taxation to be inadequate. Leiker (1998) speculates on how Rousseau would have viewed the ethics of tax evasion. Alfonso Morales (1998) examined the views of Mexican immigrant street vendors and found that their loyalty to their families exceeded their loyalty to the government. McGraw and Scholz (1991) examined tax compliance from the perspective of self-interest. Armstrong and Robison (1998) discuss tax evasion and tax avoidance from the perspective of an accounting practitioner and used Rawls' concept of two kinds of rules to analyze how accountants view the issue. Oliva (1998) looked at the issue from the perspective of a tax practitioner and commented on the schism that exists between a tax practitioner's ethical and legal obligations.

There have been a few studies that focus on tax evasion in a particular country.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Jewish Perspectives on the Ethics of Tax Evasion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.