With us heading to the April 15th deadline, I just had to bring up taxes one time (even though it’s the first time in 35 years that I don’t have tunnel vision about them). I was reading my Journal of Accountancy (good bedtime reading) and found some interesting results of a 2010 Taxpayer Attitude Survey done by the IRS Oversight board about reasons for taxpayer honesty. Intriguing statistics to ponder.
21% of the reason why taxpayers were honest was because they believed their neighbors are reporting and paying honestly. 35% of their reason was fear of an audit. 39% because they knew third parties reported their income (e.g. wages, interest dividends) to the IRS. And 80% of the reason they were honest was because of personal integrity. (I liked that statistic.)
Do you think these statistics have a correlation to what we learned as children? 21% doing what we do because everyone else is; 35% because we are afraid of getting caught, 39% because people are watching. Makes me wonder how much we do is unconscious and because somewhere along the line, we picked up someone else’s belief or reason. How much of what we do has nothing to do with us at all?
Take money for example. Do we buy things because it’s the in thing to do? Do we pay for excessive warranty plans (or insurance) because we’re afraid? Or, do we spend (or not spend) money because people will think we’re cheap or extravagant?
Wouldn’t it be much better if we listened only to that 80% personal integrity? If we did that, we’d be listening to ourselves and doing exactly what is right for us. It sure would make for a much more peaceful life—wouldn’t it?
I’m going to finish my tax return tonight—really I am!