Survey: Tax cheats don't play well among Americans

By: By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer
By: By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly nine in 10 Americans say it is "not at all" acceptable to cheat on your taxes - a sticky issue for an Obama administration that has nominated two Cabinet officials with tax troubles.

The annual survey released Monday by the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board found that only 9 percent of respondents thought it was ever OK to cheat on their taxes. Eighty-nine percent said it was never OK.

Although the survey was conducted in late August, its release comes as Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama's nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary, has acknowledged failing to pay more than $120,000 in taxes. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was confirmed to that post by the Senate last week, had similar problems on a smaller scale.

Daschle said Monday that he's "deeply embarrassed and disappointed" about his failure to pay the taxes from 2005 through 2007. He settled his tax bill last month, after Obama announced that Daschle would be nominated for the Cabinet post.

It remains to be seen whether Daschle's tax problems will derail his nomination.

The survey shows that American attitudes toward tax cheats have been relatively unchanged this decade. The survey did not ask respondents whether they ever cheated on their taxes. The overall tax payment compliance rate has hovered around 85 percent for decades, according to IRS statistics.

The survey indicated that 72 percent agreed that it is "every American's civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes." Sixty-seven percent said everyone who cheats on their taxes should be held accountable.

The national telephone survey of 1,005 adults was conducted from Aug. 22-24. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The IRS Oversight Board is an independent agency that offers guidance and oversight to the IRS. Joelle Jordan, a spokeswoman for the board, said the survey is released every February when interest is high because of tax season.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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