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Perception of tax evasion as a crime in Turkey

Serkan Benk (Department of Public Finance, Inonu University, Malatya, Turkey)
Tamer Budak (Faculty of Law, Inonu University, Malatya, Turkey)
Serap Püren (Institution of Social Science, Bulent Ecevit University, Zonguldak, Turkey)
Mete Erdem (Faculty of Law, Inonu University, Malatya, Turkey)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to investigate Turkish taxpayers’ perception of the severity of tax evasion relative to other crimes and violations.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was administrated to 475 Turkish self-employed respondents. One sample t-test and one-way analysis of variance methods were used for data analysis.

Findings

The results of the study illustrate that tax evasion ranked 10th among the 21 offences surveyed. The results indicate that the average person views tax evasion as only somewhat serious. When compared to similar white-collar crimes, it ranked less severe than accounting fraud, while it was ranked higher than violation of minimum wage laws, welfare fraud and child labor laws. The results of this paper are important as they emphasize the fact that general public do not perceive tax evasion as a serious crime. This perception, allied to lack of enforcement efforts, has created an environment where certain individuals may not be afraid of cheating on their tax return. The study also endeavors to observe whether there is a correlation between the relative severity of a crime whether a victim is involved or not.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation arises from the sampling process used. The sample was drawn from only one city of Zonguldak, Turkey. The second limitation is related to the possibility of a participant misunderstanding the questions and terminology used in the survey. The third limitation is that this study only measures perceptions of the seriousness of 21 selected offences; hence, it may not be representative of the actual crimes.

Originality/value

This is an important study in relation to Turkey. This is the pioneer study of its kind which investigates the relationship between tax evasion as a crime and other offences in Turkey. Another important aspect of this study is the fact that our results indicate a close correlation with similar studies carried out in the USA.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Professor Stewart Karlinsky for his constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper. However, we remain solely responsible for any errors and omissions.

Citation

Benk, S., Budak, T., Püren, S. and Erdem, M. (2015), "Perception of tax evasion as a crime in Turkey", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 99-111. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMLC-04-2014-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited