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Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say it's not acceptable to cheat on taxes

February 27, 2013|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington
The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg )

WASHINGTON -- Economic times are tough, but more Americans -- nearly 9 in 10 -- say it is "not at all acceptable" for people to cheat on their income taxes, according to a 2012 survey by the Internal Revenue Service.

The 87% figure was up 3 percentage points from the 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey, conducted by the IRS Oversight Board, an independent panel that tries to help the agency better serve the public.

Just 11% of respondents said it was acceptable to cheat on their income taxes, either "a little here and there" or "as much as possible." The figure was down from 14% in 2011.

Personal integrity was the main reason for not cheating, cited by 95% of the survey's 1,500 respondents, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2007.

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But fear of an audit also scored high, with 63% saying that was a reason for filling out their tax forms honestly. That figure was up 9 percentage points from 2007.

"The overwhelming majority of American taxpayers play by the rules and expect everyone else to do the same," said board Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr., a retired corporate tax counsel.

He said most Americans "don't tolerate cheating by taxpayers regardless of income." The survey found that 96% agreed that it is "every American's civic duty to pay his or her fair share of taxes" -- the same level as last year and consistent with the responses in the survey dating to its start in 2002.

Most respondents continued to say they were satisfied with their dealings with the IRS. The agency scored 76% on that point, the same as in 2011. The percentage of people who were very satisfied with their interactions with the IRS increased to 41%, from 36% the previous year.

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