"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 survey comes as federal agencies, including the IRS, brace for automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, which is scheduled to take effect Friday. In a letter to Congress, the Treasury Department said the IRS won't be able to review as many tax returns if the sequester takes effect, which "could result in billions of dollars in lost revenue and further complicate deficit reduction efforts." The agency didn't offer specifics, but said, "In recent years each dollar spent on the IRS has returned at least $4 in additional enforcement revenue."
In the poll, 62 percent of respondents said the IRS should receive extra funding to enforce tax laws and ensure taxpayers pay what they owe. Sixty-seven percent said the IRS should get more money to assist taxpayers by phone and in person.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sep. 17 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,500 randomly chosen adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
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