NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- While the
vast majority of Americans say cheating on taxes is unacceptable, a good
amount think it's perfectly fine to under-report income, claim bogus
deductions and inflate credits.
When asked how acceptable it is
to cheat on taxes, if at all, 12% of respondents answered "a little
here and there" or "as much as possible," according to a survey from the
IRS Oversight Board that polled 1,000 people.
That's up slightly from 11% in 2012 and up from a low of 9% in 2008.
Corresponding with that increase, the survey found that opinions about
the IRS have grown more negative, with an increasing number of people
saying the agency devotes too many resources to enforcement instead of
A record-low 39% of taxpayers feel the IRS "maintains a proper balance between its enforcement and service programs." And
while most respondents said they support extra funding for the IRS,
that percentage slipped from 67% in 2012 to 59% in 2013.
financial situations may also drive some people to cheat, as they feel
less able to afford an extra check to the government. Instead,
they're putting their money toward financial necessities like medical
bills, said Valrie Chambers, a professor of accounting at Texas A&M
University at Corpus Christi.
"They justify not paying because
they are paying all they can for something more important," said
Chambers. "These are sad cases to see, and are probably more prevalent
since the recession of 2008."
Others feel they have been cheated by the U.S. government and
therefore want to "even the score" by cheating on their taxes, while
still others oppose how the government would spend their money, said
No matter how you justify cheating on your taxes, be ready to cough up a big fine if you're caught.
If you underpaid, you'll need to first pay the IRS what you owe. You'll
also incur significant extra penalties and, depending on the case, you
could even face prison time.
On the other hand, you could
collect a hefty ransom if you're willing to rat someone else out for
cheating on their taxes. The IRS will pay 15% to 30% of any amount
exceeding $2 million that it collects from the tax cheat you turn in.
For less than $2 million, you get a maximum award of 15%.
good news, however, is that the majority of Americans aren't cheaters --
at least that's what they say. About 86% of respondents said it's "not
at all" acceptable to cheat on taxes. Most said that honestly reporting
their taxes is a matter of integrity, followed by fears of being audited
or because they know the IRS receives information from third parties.
Others say they are honest because they believe their friends and
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