Ethics in Accounting and Finance: Actual Issues and Controversies

Ethics in Accounting and Finance: Actual Issues and Controversies

Ionica Oncioiu (Titu Maiorescu University, Romania), Tatiana Dănescu (Petru Maior University of Targu-Mures, Romania) and Maria-Alexandra Popa (1 Decembrie University of Alba Iulia, Romania)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7712-6.ch008

Abstract

Accounting and taxation are two key functions for optimal performance of an entity's economic activity. Accounting, on the one hand, helps to provide the information needed for decision-making, and taxation, on the other hand, helps to find resources and use them efficiently. These two systems cannot function properly without trust, without ethics. This chapter aims to study the issue of applying ethical conduct in the fiscal and accounting field as well as to analyze the causes and consequences of ethical and unethical conduct specific to the topic addressed. Also, this chapter aims to present some proposals and recommendations for solving the identified problems.
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Background

Accessibility to information, the high degree of freedom of movement of people and entities, the elimination of borders between states in the European Union, as well as the significant increase in international transactions and foreign investment gave rise to a mutual need for collaboration in the financial and accounting field at Member State level.

The accounting profession assumes responsibility for acting in the public interest. Therefore, the professional accountant must adhere to a set of principles and rules in order to meet the needs of a client or an employer and to ensure the operation of the public interest. The Ethics Code for Accountants Professionals, internationally agreed and adapted to each country's needs, presents the fundamental principles that a professional accountant should follow to adopt an ethical conduct. However, some researchers believe that the professional accountant should have certain virtues and an ethical character, and not just follow a set of rules and principles imposed by a Code of Ethics. According to Applbaum (2000), the responsibilities and duties of a professional accountant can make it susceptible to pressures on the role of morality, and the latter is defined as “claiming a moral right to deliberately harm others.” Morality is therefore an essential feature that a professional accountant needs to have in order to maintain his profession to a high level of integrity. The ethical duty of a professional accountant is more than a financial debt. It opens up to areas such as the social responsibility of entities, making an effort to ensure that the entities and individuals they give advice know their own ethical responsibilities. Accounting is the basic pillar for the efficient operation and efficiency of any system in a state, and ethics supports the smooth operation of all processes involved.

Elements of ethics become part of social responsibility, because obviously a socially responsible attitude presupposes, first of all, an attitude that respects the principles of ethics. The affirmation of social responsibility is manifested in the conditions of contemporary society as a requirement, as an increasingly pressing necessity is regulated by an ensemble of ethical norms or imposed by imperative legal norms. Under these conditions, the assertion in the daily reality of the requirements of the components that make up social responsibility has become an ethical and legal obligation for commercial societies imposed by the general interests of the community.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Education Ethics: It includes a relatively broad range of ethical concerns about education.

Throughput Accounting: Integrated system based on principles used in management accounting for performance measurement through theory of constraints.

Ethical Conduct: A conduct allowed by a code of conduct.

Tax Evasion: Illegal way an entity uses in order to reduce to completely erase tax liability.

Ethical Misconduct: A conduct which is not allowed by a code of conduct.

Tax Avoidance: The way an entity reduces its taxable income and tax liability.

Cost: The money form of all material and labor expenses made by the company to produce and market material goods, execution works, and service works.

Morality: Set of personal principles which allow a person to distinguish between right and wrong.

Financial Information Users: External—potential investors, state, business partners, internal—employees, managers.

Conflict of Interest: A situation where a person/entity has multiple interests that can significantly affect the decision-making process.

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