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An examination of the ethical influences on the work of tax practitioners

Frecknall-Hughes, Jane; Moizer, Peter; Doyle, Elaine; Summers, Barbara


Jane Frecknall-Hughes

Peter Moizer

Elaine Doyle

Barbara Summers


As a contribution to the continuing debate about tax practitioner ethics, this paper explores the main streams of Western ethical thought that are relevant to tax practitioners’ work, most typically deontology and consequentialism (although virtue ethics and distributive justice are also considered). It then goes on to consider the impact of such ethical influences on the professional ethical codes of conduct that govern tax practitioners’ work (with specific reference to the UK and Ireland), and attempts to unravel the complex work and ethical environment of the practice of tax in terms of tax compliance and tax avoidance. The paper then examines the prior studies on tax practitioners and ethics and the type of dilemmas that practitioners face in the context of their work. The paper proceeds to examine empirically the extent to which tax practitioners take a consequentialist versus a deontological approach in their reasoning about moral dilemmas. This is carried out by an innovative use of the Defining Issues Test.


Frecknall-Hughes, J., Moizer, P., Doyle, E., & Summers, B. (2017). An examination of the ethical influences on the work of tax practitioners. Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 729-745.

Acceptance Date Jan 20, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2016
Publication Date Dec 1, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 17, 2016
Journal Journal of business ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer Publishing Company
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 146
Issue 4
Pages 729-745
Keywords Consequentialism, Deontology, Distributive justice, Defining Issues Test (DIT), Ethical codes, Tax practitioners’ work, Tax compliance, Tax planning/avoidance
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Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Journal of business ethics, 2016. The final publication is available at Springer via


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© The Author(s) 2016<br /> Open Access<br /> This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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