The Effect of Religiosity on Tax Fraud Acceptability: A Cross-National Analysis

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Abstract:

Religion provides an important basis for social integration and the prevention of deviant behavior, such as tax fraud, a crime that costs society billions of dollars in lost revenue. The literature on tax fraud and tax fraud acceptability (TFA) has neglected religiosity as a social bond that may deter this type of behavior. Furthermore, existing work is based on the United States; there are no systematic cross-national studies. In particular, there is no research exploring the “moral communities” hypothesis that religiosity's effect on deviance will vary according to the strength of national moral communities. The present study addresses these two gaps in the literature by analyzing data on 45,728 individuals in 36 nations from the World Values Surveys. We control for other predictors of TFA, including social bonds, economic strain, and demographic factors. The results determined that the higher the individual's level of religiosity, the lower the TFA. Results on the moral community's hypothesis were mixed. However, in a separate analysis of individual nations, the presence of a “moral community” (majority of the population identifies with a religious group) explained 39 percent of the variation in the presence or absence of the expected religiosity-TFA relationship. Furthermore, the presence of a communist regime in a nation, often known for the oppression of religious groups who then may view the regime as illegitimate, diminished the impact of religion on TFA.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00310.x

Affiliations: Augustine Kposowa is a Full Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92507., Email: ajKposowa@worldnet.att.net

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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