Most Say It's Wrong to Cheat on Taxes; Some Say It's Okay

By AccountingWEB Staff

Most taxpayers – the vast majority, in fact – say they would never cheat on their taxes and that it's wrong to do so. However, to 8 percent of taxpayers polled, it's okay to cheat "as much as possible."
 
The 8 percent figure doubled from 2010, and though 84 percent say it's unacceptable to cheat, that sentiment is down 3 percentage points. Only 6 percent say it's okay to cheat "a little here and there." The results were revealed in the IRS Oversight Board's just-released 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey.  
 
 
The results also show that 72 percent "completely agree" with the statement, "It's every American's civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes," which is 3 percent more than in 2010. Also, 79 percent say "personal integrity" has a "great deal" of influence on paying taxes honestly. Fewer cited fear of an audit as the motivator to do right by the IRS. That figure is down five points from 2010, to 59 percent.
 
The survey asked about customer service, seeking to find out how satisfied taxpayers are after interacting with the IRS, with 76 percent saying they were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied. The figure is one point down from 2010.
 
The new tax preparer registration, testing, and continuing professional education requirements, announced by the IRS in January 2010, were also covered in the survey. Ninety-four percent said it's "very" or "somewhat" important that tax preparers be required to meet standards of competency in order to enter the tax preparation business; 93 percent held the same views about preparers meeting standards of ethical behavior.
 
The survey showed the public finds the IRS website and toll-free number to be important services, with the website growing in popularity:
  • 90 percent feel the IRS toll-free number is "very" or "somewhat" important; 89 percent said the same about the website.
  • 88 percent feel it's "very" or "somewhat" important to have the option of filing tax returns electronically; 86 percent said the same about visiting an IRS representative at an office.
  • 80 percent said they were "very" or "somewhat" likely to use the website, which is up four points from 2010.
The survey sample consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews conducted in August 2011. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent. 
 
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