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More Americans say it's OK to cheat on taxes

The number who advocated cheating 'as much as possible' doubled last year, to 8% of taxpayers. An additional 6% say it's OK to cheat a little.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 2, 2012 7:47PM

This post is by Blaire Brody of The Fiscal Times.

 

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/

 
Typically, in the Internal Revenue Service's annual Taxpayer Attitude Survey, those bold Americans who tell the IRS it's OK to cheat "as much as possible" on your  taxes have made up 5% or less of those surveyed since the question was first asked in 2003 -- until the latest survey.

 

Whether it was anger with government spending, their economic situation or pure brazenness, that group hit 8% in 2011, double what it was in 2010. An additional 6% said a little cheating here and there is OK.

 

However, the majority of those surveyed said that paying taxes is "every American's civic duty" and that those who cheat should be held accountable -- with a few exceptions. More Americans felt it was important that the IRS force wealthy taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share, as opposed to small businesses or low-income taxpayers. 

 

Under the statement "taxpayers should just have to pay what they feel is a fair amount," nearly 30% completely or mostly agreed. (Post continues below video.)

When it comes to the motivation behind paying taxes, the majority of those surveyed cited personal integrity, with the second most-cited reason being the knowledge that third parties are reporting wages and other financial information to the IRS. "Fear of an audit" and belief that your neighbors are reporting and paying honestly were at the bottom.

 

Despite most Americans' best intentions, the U.S. Treasury claims it loses $250 billion or more a year in tax revenue from unreported income. And 15% of those surveyed in a DDB Worldwide Communications report last year confessed to cheating on their taxes.

 

Of those, 64% were men, 35% were single and 55% were under the age of 45. Nearly three-fourths of cheaters admitted to working a job under the table. Cheaters were more likely to keep the wrong change from a cashier, lie about their income to qualify for welfare and steal from their own child’s piggy bank (28%).

 

The sad part is that the cheaters didn’t fudge their taxes for financial reasons -- the DDB survey found that cheaters had similar income levels to honest taxpayers.

 

More from The Fiscal Times and MSN Money:

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

145Comments
Feb 3, 2012 8:24PM
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Oh, and just for full disclosure purposes, I'm one of those single guys who makes plenty of money and doesn't pay a lot in taxes. I make $80,000 a year doing business consulting for pharmaceutical companies, which is a one of those B.S. jobs that doesn't actually need any technical skills. I get to fly around the country in First-Class and stay in luxury hotels for 'business trips", all expenses paid of course. I pay an effective tax rate of 18%, a lot lower than many people who make less than me because I make charitable contributions, as well as tax-deferred contributions to my investment account and IRAs. If I earned an extra $100,000 (as the single guy in my example did), I could actually lower my tax rate under the current tax code because I can make more tax-deferred contributions. The reason the poor keeps getting poorer is because they have no money in which they can put away in these kinds of tax shelters. I don't believe that people like me should get such preferential treatment compared to the poor family of 4 in my example.

 

Feb 3, 2012 8:23PM
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If taxpayers, who are getting fewer in number each year, finally realize that most governments steal and waste more money than organized crime, Mobster Government will have a real problem.  Millions of Americans who have not had an honest job their whole life are getting money shoveled to them hand over fist by crooked politicians just to get their vote.  Most of these lifelong parasites are Democrats and rapidly expanding each year. 
Feb 3, 2012 8:19PM
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I bet the same people who find it OK to cheat on their taxes, also accuse anyone on welfare of being cheats.  It's no wonder.  If you are yourself a cheat, you assume everybody else is too.


Feb 3, 2012 8:18PM
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oi812 - most retirees are getting about @400,000 more than their contiributions, which means that current workers will get nothing from social security. As for investment income, I have to pay taxes on my wages which are part of corporate income, so why should investers pay less?
Feb 3, 2012 8:18PM
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I believe that the current in-equality in our government and financial systems (and other facets of the U.S. society) are the root cause of many of these types of problems. Most Americans see "special situations" for the 1% and feel that they "should get theirs too"! This can be theft on the Internet, cheating on taxes or any other possiblity to"get ahead"! After all, if the rich can lobby to pay 15% taxes, what can the other 99% do?? As I now live in Mexico, I see this same situation all the time with Mexican people. If the system is "rigged" in favor of the "elite", then the common people feel no shame in stealing or other dishonest actions!! If the U.S. does NOT become more equal, then the U.S. is well on the way to 3rd world country status!! People MUST believe thet have a fair chance in life or honesty and integrity are dead!!
Feb 3, 2012 8:18PM
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It is never ok to cheat on anything, period. I agree that the government wastes our money and I too resent it. But I am responsible only for what I do.
Feb 3, 2012 8:11PM
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I agree %100 with you Hoss, Owning a landscaping business and Competing with Illegals who pay nothing sucks, I only pay if I really have too, The Federal Government can kiss my Democrat mascot.
Feb 3, 2012 8:09PM
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The 53% cover the 47%, more likely the 10% cover the 90%. That blows the OWS argument out of the water.
Feb 3, 2012 8:04PM
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When the Obama administration allows it's own employees not to pay it's income taxes; what then do you expect? The whole system needs to be changed. In addition ALL should pay taxes, yes, even the poorest AMONG US AS All benefit are so we are told. The best alternative is a consuption tax as all consume. Personally I am tired of having to pay for every one who cheat and a consuption tax would catch the crooks as well.
Feb 3, 2012 8:04PM
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When the Treasury Secretary, Turbo Timmy, who is also the head guy at IRS, can cheat and not be punished, why should any of us pay taxes!
Feb 3, 2012 8:03PM
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DXZ-I am jumping in late so you may need to clear some items up for me. Most flat tax systems would do away with fica tax which now is 15.3% on the 1st 110k. This is what the worker sees taken out and what he does not see that his employer must pay. You need to calculate both since that is the cost of his labor. If you go to a flat tax the worker should see an increase starting out 15.3% greater. Then run your calculation on what the poor pays
Feb 3, 2012 7:52PM
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I stopped paying taxes 10 years ago. Once they get the illegals out of the country, then i'll start paying taxas again. Until, the IRS can @#$% off!
Feb 3, 2012 7:52PM
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Don't remember the number on the pole last week, but the cheaters were really low, what is this article trying to do cover your own ****?????? Or did you forget you did this a week ago????
Feb 3, 2012 7:51PM
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fireflytoo- Please keep fica tax out of your examples. fica pays for retirement programs that have a fixed benefit. Think of it as a IRA where you give money for your retirement. Once fully funded you reach the maximum pay out. earnings come from either wages, which are taxed at income tax rates-or-bonds which are tax free from cities/states which means you could receive $1 million and have zero tax, but that is how cities/states get low interest loans-or-dividends which come from corp profits that have already been taxed at 35% before they drop to individual and taxed again at 15%, so the profit has been taxed around 45%

Feb 3, 2012 7:49PM
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To Louie Arb:

 

It's just like a conservative to distort the math to fit his assumptions. For your information, my math is absolutely correct. I assumed a 9% flat tax rate with no deductible income, since a standardized tax deduction of 15k won't really make a tax policy "flat" due to the fact you are effectively withholding 15k as tax-exmpt. As for my calculations:

 

A family of 4 making $2,000/mo would make $24,000/yr, making their monthly tax rate at 9% as $180 (which is the rate I was quoting), or a yearly tax rate of $2,160/yr. $180 per month may not sound like much, but if you look at how much more they would have to pay yearly versus a current effective tax rate of 0%, it's quite a bit more. Oh, and as for food stamps, you should be aware that not all grocery stores and supermarkets accepts them, and neither do most restaurants or even fast food places, so if the head of that family have to work during the day and buy lunch at say, McDonald's, he would still have to spend his own money.

 

For a single guy making $15,000/yr, that's $180,000/yr, making his effective monthly tax rate at 9% as $1,350 (which is the rate I was quoting), or a yearly tax rate of $16,200. Under this plan, it would be a significant decrease in taxes compared with what he would pay now. Assuming 15K in standard deductions and no other deductions, his effective tax rate would be somewhere between 25%-30%, with a maximum marginal tax rate of 35% for income above $125,000. In other words, a flat tax would reduce the rich, single guy's tax rate by 50-66%, while increasing the tax rate of the poor family of 4 by more than 2000%!

 

You had purposely skewed the relatively simple (and correct) calculations I had made by comparing the monthly tax rate of a poor family to the yearly tax rate of a wealthy man to make it appear as if the wealthy man paid 90x more tax than the poor family, even he actually pays just 7.5x as much as the poor family. If you break down the fact that the poor family of 4 have 4 mouths to feed whereas the wealthy guy only has to take care of himself, then the wealthy guy only pays 2x as much taxes as the family per capita, whereas he makes 7.5x as much money per capita. A flat tax would help the rich and punish the poor no matter how you look at it.

Feb 3, 2012 7:48PM
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Fireflytoo

Don't add FICA back in and confuse it with income tax. First off you forget that the corporations that supposedly pay no tax match what the employee pays. Secondly the employee will get that back or more when he collects Social Security, the corporation gets nothing for the share it pays.
Feb 3, 2012 7:47PM
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When the government's tax laws are so unfair, it is no surprise that many people "cheat" on their taxes. However, is that actually cheating or just keeping the government from stealing more from you?
This country needs a revolutionary change in taxation. It would probably help the economy to recover.
Feb 3, 2012 7:47PM
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For many economic reasons, an honest population operates more efficiently and promotes a stronger economy. This trend towards dishonesty and lack-of-integrity amongst Americans worries me more than anything.
Feb 3, 2012 7:43PM
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DXZ-I do not buy your assertion on what is required. Capitalism is at it simplest form is the ability of an individual to keep the fruits of his labor. That his work is first his and not what the government say is his. The individual well not work as hard for his neighbor as he does for himself. That is why Socialism does not work. Every system requires new resources. In order to produce you do not need to borrow, however some can borrow and create a bigger return on investment than what the interest is on the borrowed investment.
Feb 3, 2012 7:34PM
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investment income provides jobs because the investments allow companies to expand requiring more workers. pretty simple really

 

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