Most Americans Say Tax Cheating is Not Acceptable

February 6, 2009

The Christian Science Monitor looks at public perception of paying taxes in light of the tax troubles of some of President Obama’s appointees:

In a 2008 survey sponsored by the IRS Oversight Board, 72 percent of citizens said they “completely agree” that it is every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes, and 89 percent – the most ever – said it is “not at all” acceptable to cheat even a little. The most recent IRS review of compliance found that, in tax year 2001, an estimated 86 percent of taxes owed were collected.

“The problem is not with the average person,” says Paul Caron, a law professor at University of Cincinnati and author of the TaxProf blog. “There’s a growing unease about people playing by a different set of rules … and that can undermine the system.”[…]

What influences Americans to voluntarily report and pay their own taxes honestly? Is it fear of being caught, as some economists have surmised? When asked to identify the factors that have a “great deal of influence” on their compliance, 81 percent said “personal integrity,” 40 percent said “third parties reporting income to the IRS,” and 36 percent said “fear of an audit.”

With Americans spending 6 billion hours worth $265 billion complying with the federal tax code, it’s hard to describe it as anything but “complex.”

See other Tax Foundation blog posts:

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