Public Sector Fraud: Comparative Analysis of Terminology and Concepts

Violeta Janulevičienė, Sigita Rackevičienė


Public sector fraud reduces government resources for healthcare, education and welfare. The recent case of the Panama Papers revealed that 12 national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens. It is obvious that activities concerning tax have rapidly gained an international dimension both globally and in Europe.
A crucial role in communication on tax-related issues between states is played by precision in using terminology, with the choice of the correct equivalents in different languages. It has been pointed out by professionals in the tax field that some major concepts are elusive for the public and specialists alike, such as tax avoidance and tax evasion, or tax minimisation and tax avoidance.
The aim of this paper is to offer a trilingual – English, Lithuanian and Norwegian – comparative analysis of the most commonly used terms that denote activities reducing tax liability. It establishes the counterparts of terminology that refer to different categories of activities reducing tax liability in those three languages, discusses synonymy of the terms and their usage in legal acts and media discourse, and offers insights into semantic differences between the terms analysed and their degree of equivalency. The terminology was verified using the multilingual database Interactive Terminology for Europe (IATE) and supplemented using numerous additional sources, such as legal acts, various official documents and media materials.
The research focuses on terms ascribed to the three most common types of tax activities (tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion/fraud) and the two phenomena of tax shelters and tax havens.
The insights offered into usage of the terms, their counterparts in the three languages, their synonyms and semantics are believed to be valuable for efficient professional communication internationally.


public sector fraud, tax-activity-related terms, terms and their synonyms, trilingual terminology analysis.

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