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Most say it's wrong to cheat on taxes

Nearly all Americans think it's wrong to cheat on taxes, survey says.
BY STEPHEN OHLEMACHER Modified: March 2, 2013 at 12:49 am •  Published: March 3, 2013
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/articleid/3760684/1/pictures/1967292">Photo - Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, part-time employee Zidkijah Zabad waves to passing motorists while holding a sign to advertise for Liberty Tax Service in Los Angeles. With tax season in full swing, a newly released poll says an overwhelming majority of adults don’t believe it is ever OK to cheat on their income taxes, with most citing personal integrity as the biggest reason why. AP Photo
Dressed as the Statue of Liberty, part-time employee Zidkijah Zabad waves to passing motorists while holding a sign to advertise for Liberty Tax Service in Los Angeles. With tax season in full swing, a newly released poll says an overwhelming majority of adults don’t believe it is ever OK to cheat on their income taxes, with most citing personal integrity as the biggest reason why. AP Photo

Forty-three percent said they think the IRS maintains a proper balance between tax enforcement and taxpayer service; 30 percent said they think the agency devotes too many resources to enforcement.

Elizabeth Maresca, a former trial attorney for the IRS, said most taxpayers don't have much of an opportunity to cheat on their taxes.

Two-thirds of individual filers don't itemize their deductions, instead taking the standard deduction. And for those who do itemize, many of their claims are verified by financial institutions that are required to notify the IRS.

For example, if you earn interest on a bank account or pay interest on a home mortgage, financial institutions send forms to both you and the IRS. Employers send wage information to the IRS.

“The vast majority of people, I think, don't even have an opportunity to cheat on their taxes,” said Maresca, an associate law professor at Fordham University. “They are so limited in what they can do and take and what breaks they are entitled to. You can't pretend that you have a kid you don't have. You can't claim your dog.”

The poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,500 randomly chosen adults.


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