The ethics of tax evasion: a comparative study of Australian, New Zealand and U.S.A. opinion

23 Aug 2007

The findings of this study show that tax evasion is considered to never be justifiable by the majority of people in each country. But the data also show that a large minority in each country consider tax evasion to be justifiable in some cases.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 = never justifiable and 10 = always justifiable, 60 percent or more of the people sampled in each country thought that tax evasion was never justifiable. Phrased differently, about 38 to 40 percent thought tax evasion was justifiable in certain circumstances. Overall mean scores for Australia, New Zealand and the United States were 2.16, 2.30 and 2.28, respectively. Wilcoxon tests found that there was no significant difference overall for Australia, New Zealand or the United States. There were also no significant differences betweenthe male scores (2.43, 2.64 and 2.54), meaning that the men of Australia, New Zealand and the United States all had the same opinion about the justifiability of tax evasion. There were no significant differences between the female scores (1.89, 2.03 and 2.01) either, but the differences between the male and female scores were all significant at the 1 percent level. Women in each country were significantly more opposed to tax evasion than were men for the same country.

This paper uses the data gathered as part of a much larger study on human beliefs and values and compares the views of 2039 Australians, 1155 New Zealanders and 1198 Americans on the ethics of tax evasion. Comparisons are made for general viewpoints as well as by gender, age and level of education to determine if there were any significant differences.

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