Tax Time Quiz: Which religion is most likely to evade? religion influence tax evasion? Who’s more likely to justify tax evasion: Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, or “Nones” (those without a religious affiliation)?

Swiss economist Benno Torgler wanted to know, so he used the World Values Surveys to examine religion, religious behavior, and “tax morale” (the opposite of tax evasion) in dozens of countries. You might be surprised at what he learned.

Who has the highest levels of tax morale? Buddhists, Hindus, and Catholics. Members of these groups are less likely to say that tax evasion is justifiable, compared to Nones.

Who has the lowest levels? Protestants and members of Orthodox religions. They are more likely to say that tax evasion is justifiable, compared to Nones. Protestants are especially likely to frown on paying taxes. Those with a strong “Protestant ethic” are against many forms of taxation, and believe that success comes from hard work—and the money earned from hard work should not be taxed.

Are you an active member of a church or religious organization? Then your tax morale is probably higher. Were your raised religiously? Up goes tax morale another notch. Of course, all of these results come with a kind of rigorous econometric analysis we expect of economists.

What do you think of these findings? Surprised? Or, did it confirm what you thought?

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