In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
But in today’s age of entitlement and government distrust, people are questioning just how certain taxes really have to be. That question has led to a lot of cheating, and one group is overwhelmingly more apt to cheating than others.
According to CNN Money, a survey by DDB Worldwide Communications group revealed that most American tax cheats are male, single and under 45. Not many people admitted to cheating—only about 15 percent of people surveyed—but 64 percent of self-proclaimed cheaters were male. Forty-seven percent were single, widowed or divorced and more than half were under 45.
The study further revealed that people who cheat on their taxes feel justified in cheating in other areas of life. In the survey, many said they worked a job they didn’t report on their taxes, would keep extra change from a cashier, would wear clothing only once before returning it and would even steal from a child’s piggy bank.
The interesting thing about this study is that many of these cheaters reported that they feel they are special and deserving of such treatment. In comments on the CNN article, many people mentioned dishonesty at the federal level or from big businesses, implying that corporations’ unethical behavior somehow justifies their own dishonest practices.
In short, two things are basically true when it comes to taxes. First, people cheat. And second, they only get in trouble if they get caught. The IRS handles so many cases every year that they can’t possibly audit everyone, but when people cheat on their taxes, they ultimately cheat their neighbors and friends. Sure, the government doesn’t always spend money exactly the way we would like. And no, not everyone pays what they should. But taxes pay for public education, roads, law enforcement, the postal service and other public services, and when one person doesn’t pay taxes, everyone else has to cover for it.
For most people, a sense of duty or desire to be honest is motivation enough to get them to pay what they owe. We at PMI believe in being honest in our financial endeavors and in giving back even more through charitable contributions.