U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Fiddling Tax and Benefits: Inculpating the Poor, Exculpating the Rich (From Paying for Crime, P 109-127, 1989, Pat Carlen and Dee Cook, eds. -- See NCJ-122192)

NCJ Number
D Cook
Date Published
19 pages
This analysis of differences in enforcement and sentencing in tax fraud and welfare fraud in England and Wales argues that the disparities result basically from the dominant political, economic, and ideological forces that result in the attachment of different motives and meanings to crimes committed by people who differ in social class and other factors.
Tax fraud and welfare fraud are both economic crimes that involve making false statements to a government department to achieve illegal financial gain from public funds. However, the offenders differ both in their incomes and in the motives often attributed to their actions, resulting in unequal and inconsistent sentencing rationales and decisions. The poor are portrayed as idle, feckless, and guilty, while taxpayers are viewed as victims of draconian governmental regulation. In addition, it is often argued that tax fraudsters pay both the taxes and the penalties, so that prosecution would be both gratuitous and counterproductive. Thus, few tax fraudsters are prosecuted. However, all welfare fraudsters are penniless by definition, but are not necessarily exempted from paying fines or court costs. The resulting injustices could be reduced by increasing the resources for the investigation and regulation of tax evasion and by recognizing that tax evasion, unlike social security fraud, is theoretically a deterrable crime because it is motivated by greed rather than need. Table and notes.


No download available