In the midst of tax season and intensified political campaigning, news headlines are dominated by contentious and partisan issues surrounding income taxes—who is responsible for what percentage, whether the rates are justified, and if the tax code should be revisited. No matter how much most Americans complain about the burden of taxes, the majority of Americans claim honesty when it comes to filing their taxes. A recent DDB Life Style Study survey uncovered that while only 7% of Americans concede that they are likely to cheat on their taxes, the  “tax cheats” share some disconcerting overall characteristics.

Demographically, the biggest difference between cheats and noncheats this year is still gender.  Of admitted cheats, 72% are men. While 55% of tax cheats are under 45, somewhat surprisingly there are no other significant demographic differences between cheats and noncheats.

tax chart

Based on the data from the DDB Life Style Study, the dishonesty that characterizes those who are tax cheats is, however, evident across many other chronic wantonbehaviors, illustrating a skewed moral compass and an inflated sense of entitlement. For example, tax cheats are more likely than noncheats to keep the wrong change given to them by a cashier, take money from their child’s piggy bank that they don’t intend to return, and value their own happiness over that of others.

tax chart long

“The behavioral patterns of those who evade their taxes illustrate that tax cheats also have an inflated sense of entitlement compared to those who dutifully obey the law and pay their taxes in full,” said Denise Kalfayan Delahorne, Group Strategy Director at DDB Chicago. “Tax cheats are more likely to consider themselves as ‘better’ and ‘more attractive’ than most people, and tend to value their own happiness ahead of others including their own children.”

Tax cheats are more likely than their non-cheating counterparts to engage in dishonest or unethical behavior such as:

tax cheat chart

Source: DDB