Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 325–339

An Empirical Analysis of the Ethical Reasoning of Tax Practitioners

  • Elaine Doyle
  • Jane Frecknall Hughes
  • Barbara Summers

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1347-x

Cite this article as:
Doyle, E., Frecknall Hughes, J. & Summers, B. J Bus Ethics (2013) 114: 325. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1347-x


How tax practitioners approach ethical dilemmas remains generally unexplored in academic literature. We use here Rest’s original Defining Issues Test (Development in judging moral issues. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979; Moral development. Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1986), combined with a tax context-specific test and in conjunction with a control group of non-tax specialists, to examine tax practitioners’ moral reasoning in a social and tax context. We investigate: (i) the effect of a tax context on issues raised (finding that practitioners generally reason at lower levels than in social scenarios); (ii) whether the profession attracts people who reason at certain levels (finding that it does not); and (iii) whether practitioners are affected by training/socialization in their professional context (finding that that they are).


DIT Moral reasoning Revenue practitioner Tax practice Tax practitioner 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine Doyle
    • 1
  • Jane Frecknall Hughes
    • 2
  • Barbara Summers
    • 3
  1. 1.Kemmy Business SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.The Open University Business SchoolMilton KeynesUK
  3. 3.Leeds University Business SchoolUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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