People Who Cheat on Their Income Taxes
It is that time of year. The tax man cometh! The deadline for filing income taxes is only a few weeks away.
Most people will dutifully calculate their taxes and grudgingly (most taxpayers are not cheerful givers!) remit them to the federal and state governments. As President Reagan once famously quipped, the taxpayer is “someone who is working for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.”
It should be noted that most people pay their full taxes. Some do this out of integrity, defined as doing the right thing when no one is looking. Others do this because they fear the consequences of getting caught.
This does not mean that we should not attempt to minimize taxes due. It makes sense for everyone to take full advantage of all legitimate deductions to which they are entitled.
But recent estimates from the Tax Foundation and the Pew Trust reveal that 1.6 million taxpayers will willfully cheat on their taxes. Many of them believe this is not wrong. And this is underscored by the December report published by the IRS Oversight Board.
The study found that 12 percent of respondents thought it was acceptable to cheat as long as it was “a little here or a little there.” One in four in the group – 3 percent of total respondents – stated that is was all right to cheat “as much as possible.”
The vast majority of Americans, 86 percent, stated that it was not acceptable to cheat on taxes. When asked to list the major factor in not cheating, they responded that personal integrity, the belief in doing the right thing, fostered their belief.
In another section of the questionnaire, the Oversight Board queried respondents as to their concerns about the tax system. Most pointed primarily to the belief that higher-income taxpayers and corporations were not paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, 97 percent thought it was important or very important for the IRS to take appropriate action to ensure that both groups pay their share of the tax burden.
That reform of the system, both individual and corporate, is desperately needed is painfully aware to each of us on April 15. But this does not justify blatant tax cheating.