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Tax cheating is unacceptable, say most Americans

We may hate our tax code and paying taxes, and we definitely are not very happy with the lawmakers who devise and constantly change our tax system, but U.S. taxpayers are committed to following it.

That's the finding of the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board in its latest annual look at what taxpayers are thinking.

In fact, the 2012 Taxpayer Attitude Survey notes that we're more adamant than we've been in recent years about following the tax laws.

"The public attitude that it is not at all acceptable to cheat on your income taxes increased between 2011 and 2012 to 87 percent, while tolerance for tax cheating (i.e., a little here and there, or as much as possible) dropped to 11 percent, one of its lowest levels ever recorded in the Board's survey," according to the report.

IRS Oversight Panel tax cheating findings 2012

"Personal integrity is at the core of our self-assessment tax system," said Board Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr. in a statement accompanying the report's release this week. "The overwhelming majority of American taxpayers plays by the rules and expect everyone else to do the same. They don't tolerate cheating by taxpayers regardless of income, and 96 percent of those surveyed agreed that it was every American's civic duty to pay his or her fair share of taxes."

Thoughts on the IRS: While the IRS is no doubt pleased that most taxpayers take their voluntary compliance with tax laws seriously, the numbers aren't quite as good for the tax agency itself.

Overall, the general public's satisfaction with interactions with the IRS in 2012 was positive.

Seventy-six percent reported being "very" and "somewhat" satisfied with IRS contacts. That's unchanged from the prior year.

The good news for the IRS is that the percentage of taxpayers who said they were "very satisfied" increased in 2012 to 41 percent, tying the highest level ever recorded in an Oversight Board survey.

"In spite of budget cuts that have diminished their ranks, IRS employees continue to strive to provide quality service to taxpayers, whether it's answering a taxpayer’s account question or helping taxpayers navigate a complex tax code," said Cherecwich.

And most of us recognize that money does affect service.

The survey also found that 67 percent of polled taxpayers supported extra funding for the IRS so that it could better assist taxpayers over the phone and in person. This is the highest level ever measured since the Board began asking the question in 2004.

Appreciation for all types of help: Taxpayers also expressed recognition of IRS representatives, the IRS website and paid tax professionals as valuable sources of tax information and advice.

IRS Oversight Panel 2012 findings regarding tax help

At least 87 percent of those surveyed said they found those sources of tax help somewhat or very valuable.

But the rating for less official sources wasn't so good. Family and friends who offer tax advice only received a 60 percent or so approval rating.

Sorry Uncle Billy. It looks like you might not be doing as many returns for the clan this year.

Do your views match up with those of the 1,500 adults interviewed last fall by the IRS Oversight Board?

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It's easy for people to say they don't support cheating on taxes, but I'm sure some of those people also cheap on their taxes.

Nanny tax? 95% don't pay it.

Other people don't think what they're doing is cheating but think that a small change on a form for something the IRS can't track isn't that big of a deal.

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