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Loubna Sakka Fakhreddine

DBA Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

What Factors Trigger Tax Practitioners' Unethical Behavior Leading to Income Tax Evasion in Lebanon?

Supervisor(s)

Bassem Maamari

Loubna Sakka Fakhreddine is the former principal tax controller at the Lebanese Ministry of Finance (July 2004 to July 2016). She holds a DBA from Grenoble University, France, and a Masters in Finance from Saint Joseph University, Lebanon. Her research interests include business ethics and taxation.

Purpose Most articles and research publications written on tax evasion are from the perspective of public finance. Few articles discuss the ethical aspects of tax practitioners. This work aims to quantify tax practitioners’ effects in Lebanon on the problem of ethics of tax evasion.Design/methodology/approach This research investigates ethics of tax evasion utilizing a survey. To the researcher’s knowledge, no study was conducted so far on this issue on the Lebanese population using all 15 variables together. Building on tax experiences of various countries, the tax administration could proceed to institute new, or enhance existing practices to produce a better understood and more manageable and equitable system.Findings Tax practitioners’ unethical behavior is mainly affected by three of fifteen independent variables; namely, competition, corruption, and tax practitioners’ level of experience.Research limitations/implications This study provides novel insights to Lebanese tax administrators in an attempt to reduce the corruption, and to propose an enhanced tax education program. It can fill the gap in the business ethics literature by exploring methods to design and apply strategies to minimize tax evasion and corruption in the country. Future researchers should try to seek a larger number of sampled auditors. They may also track changes in the behavior of auditors over time. They can highlight the Lebanese citizens’ lack of confidence in government and its economic effects. More research can be conducted on the banking secrecy in Lebanon and its effects on tax evasion and corruption.Many challenges were encountered in conducting the field study, such as sample size, the refusal of many auditors to cooperate in data collection process, and, external validity, which reflects how close respondents’ behavior in the research reflects their behavior in practice.Practical implications This research has contributed to the Lebanese context through various aspects such as the necessity for auditors to adhere to LACPA codes and respect its rules, and to conduct training and education for auditors to enhance their awareness on the importance of maintaining good reputation. By enhancing these procedures, managers of auditing firms will also be aware of creating an ethical, clean and honest culture in their own firms. Originality/value This research offers an overview of the issue of ethics of tax evasion, delineating the variety of factors affecting ethics of tax practitioners who are in this study the Lebanese tax auditors, and examining possible remedies.Keywords: Ethics, Lebanese tax practitioners, unethical behavior, tax evasion.