Journal of Business Ethics 147 (3):469-487 (2018)
AbstractThis is the conundrum that gives rise to the issue of tax avoidance: Although governments always seem to lack sufficient funds to support the needs of society, tax codes are often written that offer “a way out” of paying taxes for some but not all constituents. The ways out are referred to as loopholes that allow taxpayers to avoid taxes. This paper first defines the basic terms of tax avoidance and tax evasion and then offers an ethical review of the morality of aggressive tax avoidance. Aggressive tax avoidance is then addressed in relationship a corporate entity’s tone at the top. The conclusion is drawn that use of the letter of the law to avoid payment of taxes sorely needed by governments for the good faith provision of public goods and services is ethically unacceptable. Several suggestions for change are provided, including a new financial statement disclosure and the possibility of a published corporate ethics report.
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