Taxes: Your Annual Ethics Test

Many ethical dilemmas land on our doorstep when we least expect them, but there’s one that arrives with dogged regularity—the annual income tax return.

While there are thousands of strict regulations and rules, and many checks and balances, a lot depends on our own integrity. With the Internal Revenue Service able to audit so few returns, the tax code becomes dependent to a surprising degree on the honor system, and that can lead to strong temptations to cheat.
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Delta Goof Raises Ethical Issue

One issue that comes up repeatedly in the questions and comments we get has to do with the ethics of paying a fair price. One example involves a situation like a yard sale when a buyer recognizes an object as being worth far more than the seller is asking. We think the general rule is that there’s no ethical obligation to pay more. The price was set by the seller, and let’s face it, one of the big attractions of yard sales is the possibility of finding a great bargain. Still, when the price difference is major, we’re inclined to think the fairest approach is to split the difference.
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Ethics Quiz: Selling Tactics

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Ethics Quiz: Asking Your Doctor to Fool an Insurer

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Slavery: What’s Your Ethical Duty?

Ask anyone if slavery is unethical and you’re almost sure to get a resounding yes. But the cold truth is that the practice continues in many forms and in many places, even here in the U.S. So a much more relevant question has to do with our ethical responsibility to do something about the problem: Do we have one and what exactly should we do?
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Should Workers Know What Colleagues Earn?

There’s been a lot of debate lately over whether information on salaries should be shared with the staff. Those who favor making the names and numbers available to others at the firm argue that transparency is crucial to fairness and ethics. Employees need the information to conduct salary negotiations on a fair footing, and if two people are doing the same work and one is getting significantly more money, the boss should be forced to explain and justify the difference. In short, secrecy gives the boss an unfair advantage. If the pay scale is fair, no one has anything to hide.
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