Tax office on Hämeentie in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA


A recent doctoral thesis by Jori Grym sheds light on the moral motivations that drive people to either pay taxes or evade them, highlighting the influence of communal values and emerging financial technologies on these behaviors. Grym's research, which explores the deeper psychological reasons behind tax compliance and evasion, suggests that a person’s sense of community plays a crucial role in their willingness to contribute to public coffers, whereas adherence to rules strongly influences their judgment of tax evasion.

Grym found that people experience positive feelings when they pay taxes as a way to support societal benefits, which he refers to as a "warm glow." However, these feelings are not significantly enhanced by merely following rules or obeying authority. On the contrary, those who are motivated by rule-following are more likely to harshly judge others who evade taxes.

Additionally, Grym’s study indicates that the use of cryptocurrencies may alter perceptions of the ethics of tax evasion. When tax evasion is carried out using cryptocurrencies, it is often viewed as less unethical compared to using traditional methods like stock trading. This observation is partly due to the more favorable moral assessment of cryptocurrency traders in general, which can lead to a softer judgment of their tax-related transgressions.

As financial technologies continue to evolve, Grym emphasizes the need for these innovations to be grounded in ethical principles from the start. He warns that without a deliberate focus on ethical foundations, public perceptions of right and wrong could be swayed by subconscious biases associated with new financial tools.

Grym concludes by stressing the importance of fostering a desire to support societal welfare and adherence to regulations, particularly as new technologies become increasingly prevalent. His findings aim to contribute to the maintenance of ethical cooperation in an evolving financial landscape.