Social responsibility, professional commitment and tax fraud

William E. SHAFER, Richard, S. SIMMONS, Rita W. Y. YIP

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to document relationships between accountants’ socioeconomic beliefs and attitudes and their professional commitment and ethical decisions in a domain-specific context. Specifically, it investigates the relationships among Chinese tax accountants’ level of belief in the importance of corporate ethics and social responsibility, affective/normative professional commitment and ethical judgements/intentions in a case involving client pressure to commit tax fraud.

Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a survey of tax practitioners employed by public accounting firms in China. The data are analyzed using linear regression and structural equation modelling.

Findings: The stakeholder view, representing both normative and practical support for the importance of corporate ethics and social responsibility, was strongly and positively associated with professional commitment among tax practitioners. The stakeholder view also exhibited a strong negative association with intentions to engage in tax fraud. Tax accountants who possessed higher levels of professional commitment judged tax fraud as more unethical, and such ethical judgements were associated with a lower likelihood of intending to engage in fraud.

Originality/value: The associations between: first, professional accountants’ beliefs in the importance of corporate ethics and social responsibility and their level of professional commitment; and second, professional commitment and tax professionals’ ethical judgements have received little attention in the prior literature. The findings of this study suggest that the integrity of public accounting services may be influenced by relatively broad socioeconomic attitudes, and that this effect may operate partially through commitment to professional values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-134
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

This research has benefited from financial support from the Research Committee of Lingnan University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.


  • China
  • Corporate ethics and social responsibility
  • Ethical decision making
  • Professional commitment
  • Tax fraud


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