Tax professionals in public accounting firms must meet professional standards in working with their clients, but may also face pressure from both their clients and firms when making ethical decisions. The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of client factors on tax professionals’ ethical decision-making. Furthermore, we also investigate how client service climate and different ethical climate types affect these ethical decisions. Based on an experimental design with 149 practicing tax professionals, results indicate that tax professionals are not swayed by client importance or social interaction with the client when making ethical decisions. However, tax professionals are more likely to engage in ethical behavior when their own accounting firm monitors and tracks the quality of client service, whereas unethical behavior is more common when public accounting firms emphasize using personal ethical beliefs in decision-making. The results of the study suggest the importance of strong policies and procedures to promote ethical decision-making in firms.
We appreciate the helpful feedback provided by participants at the 17th Annual Symposium on Ethics Research in Accounting (Andy Felo, Discussant; Best Research Paper Award winner), the 2012 ABO Research Conference – Research Forum, and the 2015 Public Interest Section Mid-Year Meeting (Cynthia Krom, Discussant). We also gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of Charlie Thornton.
Hageman, A.M. and Fisher, D.G. (2016), "The Influence of Client Attributes and Organizational Climate on Tax Professionals", Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting (Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-66. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1574-076520160000020002
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