Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Say Tax Cheating is Wrong

If you’ve been hassling with your tax return as the April 15 filing deadline approaches, you may be interested to know that eight-in-ten of your fellow citizens (79%) consider not reporting all income on one’s taxes to be morally wrong, while just 5% consider it morally acceptable and 14% say it’s not a moral issue. (The only behavior on a list tested in a Pew Social Trends Survey that drew more moral condemnation than cheating on one’s taxes is cheating on a spouse. Some 88% say it is morally wrong for married people to have an affair, while 3% say it is morally acceptable and 7% say it is not a moral issue.) Of course, moral disapproval is one thing, behavior another. The IRS’s most recent estimate of the gross “tax gap” — the difference between what taxpayers should have paid and what they actually paid on a timely basis in 2001 — comes to some $345 billion, of which IRS enforcement activities and other late payments recovered about $55 billion. Read More