Attitudes About Tax Evasion in China and the U.S.

Robert McGee has published another paper with a cross-cultural examination of attitudes concerning tax evasion and resistance. This paper compares the self-reported attitudes of business students in Beijing and in New Jersey.

One thing that makes this paper interesting is that it includes the questions about whether it is okay to evade taxes if the government is violating the rights of its subjects. In the past, McGee had omitted those questions from his surveys in China for fear that they would get his co-researchers (or subjects) in trouble with the human-rights-hostile Chinese government.

The students surveyed were asked to respond to 18 statements about tax evasion with an indication of the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement (1 = strongly agree; 7 = strongly disagree; with a gradient of numbers inbetween). Here are some examples:

QuestionAverage (China)Average (U.S.)
6. Tax evasion is ethical if a large portion of the money collected is spent on projects that I morally disapprove of.5.9505.217
11. Tax evasion is ethical if a significant portion of the money collected winds up in the pockets of corrupt politicians or their families and friends.4.5154.398
13. Tax evasion is ethical if some of the proceeds go to support a war that I consider to be unjust.3.9655.466
16. Tax evasion would be ethical if I were a Jew living in Nazi Germany in .4.0853.694
17. Tax evasion is ethical if the government discriminates against me because of my religion, race or ethnic background.4.4973.981
18. Tax evasion is ethical if the government imprisons people for their political opinions.3.9353.862

I thought the response to question #13 about war tax resistance was interesting. It seems to show a respect for war tax resistance in China that I would not have expected to find. The difference between the Chinese average and the U.S. average is statistically significant on that question, and it represents one of only two questions in which the Chinese sample were significantly more in favor of tax evasion (and of only four in which they were more in favor, significantly or not).


There was some Rebeccaite mopping-up to be done at the Spring Assizes in Carmarthenshire, as was reported in the Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser (excerpts):

John Jones, Thomas Hughes, and Benjamin Jones, were then indicted on the charge of having destroyed Pontarllechau gate and toll-house, near Llangadock, on .

His lordship, after the examination of several witnesses, summed up; after which the jury retired to consider their verdict. In a short time they returned, and delivered a verdict of “Guilty” against the three defendants. They were ordered to be detained in custody.