U.S. Invites Tax Cheats Under Antiquated System


Self Reporting Sets Up Adversarial Relationship Making Criminals Out of Ordinary Citizens


by Johnny Punish

Americans may make plenty of jokes about cheating on their taxes but a new survey finds that, in reality, most don’t think it’s OK to rob the tax man. Or at least, that’s what they’re telling the IRS Oversight Board.
The 2012 Taxpayer Attitude Survey released Tuesday by the independent oversight board finds that 87 percent of Americans don’t think it’s OK to cheat on taxes. That’s a 3 percentage point increase from last year.
Only 11 percent think it’s OK to cheat; either a little or as much as possible.
Perhaps more eye opening is that 95 percent of Americans said their personal integrity influences them to report their taxes honestly, an 8 percentage point increase from five years earlier.
About 63 percent said they are influenced by fear of an audit while 70 percent are motivated by third-party information that could show them to be a tax cheat.
The IRS Oversight Board, an independent body created by Congress in 1998 to oversee the Internal Revenue Service’s actions, completed its annual survey of 1,500 Americans last August and September. The survey has a 3.1 percent margin of error.
If they’re going to pay their taxes honestly most Americans seem to think everyone else should too.
The survey found that more than 90 percent of Americans think it is important that the IRS ensures that low and high income taxpayers, small businesses and corporations honestly pay their taxes too.
Those results appear to show that Americans have come to feel more strongly in recent years that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes and the IRS should vigorously enforce tax laws.
The results come as many Americans are either getting ready to file their 2012 income tax returns, or already have done so.
They also follow a bruising battle in Washington over the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect until Congress reached a last-minute deal.
The fiscal cliff agreement raised taxes for wealthy Americans earning $400,000 or more and allowed taxes on capital gains and dividends to go up. It also ended a payroll tax holiday meaning that most Americans are seeing more of their paycheck going to the tax man for Social Security and other entitlements this year.
But the real big picture question is;  In today’s modern world of technology where the government already knows how much income you earn why do we even have this pathetic system in the first place?
I mean why put the onus on people to report their income and expenses?  Do we file a report with credit card companies telling them how much we owe them?  No!  So why doesn’t the government simply send out a statement once per year with a “this is how much money you earned, this is your tax bill”.  Boom, no more tax cheat issues.  And better, no more compliance workers – whether they be government auditors or public accountants.
Yes, I know…  H & R Block will hate this idea but hey, maybe they can get into the build something business and actually add value to our society and economy.  Hey Republicans, how’s that for cutting government spending and improving our economy?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Johnny Punish is a musician, artist, entertainer, businessman, investor, life coach, and syndicated columnist. Educated at University of Nevada Las Vegas, his articles appear in VT, Money News Now and his Johnny Punish Blog. His art music is promoted by Peapolz Media Records and played on net radio at Last.fm and more.
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2013 copyright – Johnny Punish

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