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Lying, Cheating, and StealingA Moral Theory of White-Collar Crime$
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Stuart P. Green

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199225804.001.0001

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Tax Evasion

Tax Evasion

(p.243) 19 Tax Evasion
Lying, Cheating, and Stealing


Oxford University Press

Even compared to other white-collar crimes, tax crimes seem ambiguous in their moral character: no one likes to pay taxes, and most people take steps to minimize their liability; however, we recognize that taxes are the fuel on which a liberal society runs, and we resent it when others fail to pay their fair share. The nonpayment of taxes can be treated as a serious fraud, a minor regulatory violation, or perfectly lawful ‘tax avoidance’. Even when it is clear that a violation of law has occurred, there is great variability in whether it will be treated as criminal or civil, and the decision of how the enforcement agency will decide to pursue is different in different regions, with like cases often treated in quite divergent ways. This chapter identifies the basic issues that need to be addressed, and suggests a general and quite tentative characterization of tax evasion based, once again, on the concept of ‘cheating’.

Keywords:   white-collar crimes, criminal law, tax evasion, cheating, tax avoidance

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