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Lying on taxes: Who’s guilty of fudging their finances?

About one in six Americans say they have lied on their taxes.

It’s tax time, which means gathering W-2s, proving your health insurance coverage and digging up deductions. But have you ever been tempted to fudge those deductions — for instance, saying you gave to charity when you didn’t, or maybe not declaring a little income from your side hustle?

If you’re anything like the vast majority of Americans, the answer is probably not, according to the latest research from the Finder Consumer Confidence Index.

Only one in six (16%) American adults says they’ve cheated on their taxes, yet that adds up to roughly 41 million fraudulent returns. And not all lies are created equal. Roughly one in 10 (a combined 11%) says they either sometimes (6%) or always (5%) lie when filing their taxes. A further 3% says they’ve lied on their taxes by mistake, and 2% say it was a one time thing.

Men more likely to cheat on their taxes

It’s sad to say, but when it comes to taxes, men are more dishonest, with men three times (24%) more likely to lie on their taxes than women (8%).

Younger Americans more likely to fib on their returns

Gen Y is the most likely to lie come tax time, with a touch over a quarter (27%) saying they’ve lied on their taxes. Some 10% say they either always or sometimes tell a fib when filing, 4% say they did so by mistake and 3% say they’ve lied once in the past.

Wild West cheats best

If HBO’s Deadwood has taught us anything, it’s that the West is known for gunslingers, outlaws and saloons filled with people cheating at cards. Today it’s tax evaders who have replaced the old card sharks, with 19% of Americans in the West admitting to cheating on their taxes.

The more you earn, the more reason to lie

Those earning six figures (37%) are more than twice as likely to have lied on their taxes than those earning under $100,000 (16%).

What are you hiding?

Of those who admit to lying on their returns, 31% say they’ve hidden additional income made from investments. Another 28% say they didn’t report income from a side hustle, while 13% say they’ve hidden their gambling winnings.

Men more likely to hide additional income

Men (34%) are more than twice as likely as women (16%) to keep their earnings from a side hustle off the books.

How many Americans expect a return?

Roughly 128 million (49%) of tax-paying Americans expect to get a return this year, with 51% planning to take that return and put it into savings. A further 32% say they will pay off debt, and 22% will just spend the money.

Women twice as likely to pay down debt

Of those expecting a return, 41% of women say they’ll take that money and pay off debt, compared to just 23% of men who say the same. Men (30%) are three times more likely than women (10%) to say they’ll invest their returns.

Gen Z: The saving generation

A majority of Gen Z (59%) say they will squirrel away their returns this year, while 42% of Gen X say they’ll use their returns to pay off debt.

How returns will be used around the country

Some 57% of those in the Northeast say they will put their return into savings, while 35% of those in the West will use their return to pay off debt.

Investing a priority for those earning over $100K

Those earning more than $100,000 (38%) are three times as likely to invest their tax return in 2023 as those earning under $100,000 (13%). Those earning under $100,000 (36%) are more than twice as likely as those earning over $100,000 (15%) to use their return to pay off debt.


Richard Laycock headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


/in/richardlaycock/ /aleksvee/

Image: Getty

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