Tax & benefit manipulation

Tax avoidance and benefit manipulation

Views on its morality and prevalence


This chapter identifies a double standard in attitudes to tax avoidance and benefit manipulation: while around half or more regard both as wrong, benefit recipients are judged more harshly than tax offenders for what might be considered similar ‘offences’.

This double standard varies across different groups: people in the highest income group and who are right-wing are less likely to say that tax avoidance is wrong, while people who hold liberal views are less likely to say that benefit manipulation is wrong. There has been a sudden drop in the perceived prevalence of benefit manipulation, which, if sustained, indicates a major shift in attitudes towards benefit claimants.

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The proportion who say most dole claimants are ‘fiddling’ is at its lowest level since 1986


The public is more disapproving of benefit manipulation than tax avoidance


Authors: Ben Baumberg Geiger, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, University of Kent; Aaron Reeves, Associate Professorial Research Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science; Robert de Vries, Lecturer in Quantitative Sociology, University of Kent