TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, May 16, 2014

Christians: Avoidance, Evasion, and Taxpayer Morality

Allison Christians (McGill), Avoidance, Evasion, and Taxpayer Morality, 44 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y ___ (2014):

WashUIn popular discourse, tax evasion by wealthy individuals is conflated with tax avoidance by multinational corporations to tell a single story about tax dodging and its negative impact on society. But conflating avoidance and evasion muddies the tax policy waters in important ways by turning legal obligations into moral ones. This Essay, prepared in connection with the Washington University School of Law colloquium on Conceptualizing a New Institutional Framework for International Taxation, makes the case for caution in using morality as a stop-gap measure to avoid drawing a regulated line between tax evasion and tax avoidance, while still meting out punishment within the undefined space between these two poles. It acknowledges the political gains derived from the rhetoric of morality but argues that the alternate view — that taxpayer behavior must ultimately be managed by law rather than social sanction — has the best chance of driving tax policy toward greater coherence in the long run because it makes the best case for more transparency in both lawmaking and the consequences of legislative decisions.

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Here is the definition of evade from an online dictionary: "escape or avoid, especially by cleverness or trickery." Evasion and avoidance seem like synonyms to me.

Posted by: Kirt | May 16, 2014 6:29:16 AM