The Curious Case of Corporate Tax Avoidance: Is it Socially Irresponsible?

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Journal Article
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 124 (1), pp. 173 - 184
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© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. In contrast to many aspects of the social responsibility of business, CSR scholarship has been largely silent on the issue of the payment of corporate tax. This is curious because such tax payments are often considered a fundamental and easily measured example of a company’s citizenship behavior. However, because the payment of corporate tax can often be legally avoided, this activity represents a boundary condition for CSR. If the law and CSR suggest that a company should pay its fair share of tax, yet many successful companies actively avoid this social obligation, should they be considered socially irresponsible. This paper explores the issue of tax avoidance and the implications it has for any credible definition and measure of CSR. It also highlights an aspect of corporate practice that is deliberately hidden from public view.
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