The Ethics of Tax Evasion: A Comparative Study of Chinese and U.S. Opinions

Author:Robert McGee - Yeomin Yoon - Ye Li
Position:Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, USA - Seton Hall University, New Jersey, USA. University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China - University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China
Pages:161-186
SUMMARY

Tax evasion is defined as the illegal nonpayment of a tax. Various arguments have been made over the centuries to justify tax evasion. Historically, the strongest arguments to justify tax evasion have been in cases where the people perceive the tax system to be unfair, where the government is corrupt, where tax rates are too high, where there is inability to pay, where a large portion of the funds collected... (see full summary)

 
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e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2014 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
161
THE ETHICS OF TAX EVASION
A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF CHINESE AND U.S.
OPINIONS
ROBERT W. MCGEE
Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, USA
E-mail: bob414@hotmail.com
YEOMIN YOON
Seton Hall University, New Jersey, USA
University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China
YE LI
University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China
Tax evasion is dened as the illegal nonpayment of a tax. Various arguments
have been made over the centuries to justify tax evasion. Historically, the
strongest arguments to justify tax evasion have been in cases where the people
perceive the tax system to be unfair, where the government is corrupt, where
tax rates are too high, where there is inability to pay, where a large portion of
the funds collected are wasted or wind up in the pockets of corrupt politicians
or their friends or family, where the funds are spent on projects the taxpayer
morally disapproves of, or where the taxpayers perceive that they are not getting
much in return for their tax payments. ere has also been a perception that
tax evasion is acceptable if everyone else is doing it or if the probability of getting
caught is low.
Historically, the weakest arguments have been in cases where the government
works for the benet of the people, where the money is being spent wisely, where
the government is not corrupt, where the system is perceived as being fair, and
The Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law Volume II Issue 1 (2015) at 161–186
McGee, Yoon & Li
162
where the people are receiving good benets in exchange for their tax payments.
e present study examined and summarized the main arguments and
incorporated them into a survey instrument that was distributed to 200
university students in China and 161 in the United States to determine the
relative strengths of 18 historical arguments that have been used to justify
tax evasion in the past. e arguments are ranked from strongest to weakest.
Comparisons are also made between Chinese and U.S. opinion. A comparison
of rankings and mean scores found that, overall, the Chinese were signicantly
more opposed to tax evasion in 10 cases and signicantly less opposed to tax
evasion in two cases. Chinese women were more opposed to tax evasion than
were Chinese men in all 18 cases; the opposition was signicantly stronger in 10
cases. For the U.S. sample, men were signicantly more opposed to tax evasion
than women in one case; for the other 17 cases, the dierences in mean scores
were not signicant.
Keywords: Ethics, Tax Evasion, Gender, Student Status, Academic Major, Public
Finance.
I. INTRODUCTION
Taxation is a topic that has been present in the religious, philosophical
and historical literature for thousands of years.1 Both the Old and New
Testament of the Christian Bible discuss it. It is a subtopic of the broader
subject of the relationship of the individual to the state.
ere are two broad and polar opposite views on the relationship of
the individual to the state. Either the state is the master and individuals
are its servants, or the people are the masters and the state is the servant,
whose sole existence is to serve the people.2 Neither of these pure forms
exists in the real world. All governmental systems are a mixture of these
two views.
1. C A, F, F  F: T S  T (1982);
C A, F G  E: T I  T   C 
C ().
2. R W. MG, T P  T  P F
() [hereinafter MG, T P]; T E  T E:
P  T  P (Robert W. McGee Ed., 2012) [hereinafter
McGee ed., T E].

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