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 in between). Here are some examples:
|Question||Average (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.||5.950||5.217|
|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.||4.515||4.398|
|13. Tax evasion is ethical if some of the proceeds go to support a war that I consider to be unjust.||3.965||5.466|
|16. Tax evasion would be ethical if I were a Jew living in Nazi Germany in .||4.085||3.694|
|17. Tax evasion is ethical if the government discriminates against me because of my religion, race or ethnic background.||4.497||3.981|
|18. Tax evasion is ethical if the government imprisons people for their political opinions.||3.935||3.862|
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).