Honesty the Best Policy on Taxes

February 28, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Most Americans claim to be honest when it comes to paying their taxes - and fear of being caught isn't the primary reason.

According to a survey by the IRS Oversight Board, 95% of those polled last August either completely or mostly agreed that it is every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes – roughly the same number as a year ago.  

Influencing Factors

As for factors influencing that civic duty, just over half (54%) said fear of an audit was a major factor or somewhat of a factor – down from 61% in 2006.   More (61%) said third-party reporting of their income influenced their decision to be honest, but the vast majority (87%) listed personal integrity as having a great deal or some influence.

The board, comprised of private sector advisers to the Internal Revenue Service, also found that 84% said that it was not at all acceptable to cheat on your income taxes – again, roughly the same (albeit down slightly from 86%) as in 2006.

The survey of 1,000 taxpayers also revealed that 89% completely or mostly agreed that those who cheat on their taxes should be held accountable.   More than half (60%) went so far as to say that it was everyone’s personal responsibility to report anyone who cheats on his or her taxes.

Eight percent said it was permissible to cheat “a little here and there” and five percent backed cheating “as much as possible,” according to Reuters.