The Lies We Tell

Extra marital affairs is the number one morally wrong behavior listed on a Barometer of Modern Morals. That's a survey taken this year by the Pew Research Center. Following our report on the subject we now know that 95% of those who responded to our KTRE web poll agree that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. Five percent said it wasn't morally wrong.

According to Pew Research cheating on your taxes is almost as bad as cheating on your spouse. Earlier this year 79% say tax cheating is morally wrong. Yet only 43% of those surveyed believe telling a lie to spare someone's feelings is morally wrong. An Associated Press poll released this week had similar results. Two thirds say it's O-K to tell white lies. Both kinds of lies may get you in trouble, but in different ways.

Your friend buys a swimsuit. She thinks she looks great in it. You know the truth is quite the opposite. When she asks your opinion, would you tell a white lie to keep from hurting her feelings? We posed the question to someone behind a badge. Sheriff's deputy Angela Russell said, "I don't think you have to lie, but you can be tactful about your response." So what in the world would you suggest? Russell's spin is, "I' ld be if you like it, than I like it."

A compassionate answer may be the moral thing to do with a friend, but straight forward honesty is what you want to use when facing the Internal Revenue Service. So says a partner in one of the most respected accounting firms in East Texas, Axley and Rode. CPA Joe Aguilar said, "If you get caught you can be subject to penalties, interest and if its serious enough you can fall under the criminal investigation unit of the IRS."

Just like Al Capone to Willie Nelson. The IRS likes to catch celebrities to keep the rest of us honest.   Aguilar knows, "The IRS uses publicity as a deterrent. They can't possibly audit all the tax returns that are filed."

The last time the IRS looked into tax cheating was 1991. It found a tax gap of $345 billion dollars. Of that $197 billion was from underreporting of income.

Aguilar's job is to help clients find honest ways to lower their taxable income. He keeps an American flag and his granddaughter Ember's photograph close by. Both good reminders to practice good moral behavior. Aguilar advised, "There's no need to cheat. There are better ways to minimize your tax besides being morally wrong. You're not cheating the IRS. You're cheating the United States government."

We would like to hear what you think about the morality of white lies and income tax cheating. Take our KTRE web poll on the subject.