Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm Not Shocked - Scientists Cheat More on Taxes Than Lawyers

One of my lawyer friends sent this my way with a Heh, HAHAHAHA! 
So who isn't paying? Scientists, it appears. A recent study looked at tax cheats and found that one of the best indicators of who is likely to try to get around paying their taxes in full is their profession. The study, by University of Chicago doctoral student Oscar Vela, looked at the percent people misrepresented their income and then ranked them by profession. There were of course some industries you would expect at the top of the list - landscapers, electricians and general contractors. Those people where people usually work for themselves and are often paid in cash making misreporting your income easier.
I would have to say that on the average, scientists have a strong feeling of entitlement, that the government owes them a living, that their work is important to the country, and that they are smarter than most of the people likely to be enforcing the law and can likely get away with it.  I know a scientist who, as a side job has (or had, I believe he's retired from his government position), a consulting business on the side.  He owns and enjoys a sailboat.  Every time he goes sailing, he records a temperature, and thus justifies his sailing expenses for tax purposes.  Legal? Hell if I know. Moral? Not in my book.
But there where some surprises. Lawyers it turns out are the least likely to cheat. Another group of people most likely to pay their taxes in full: chief executive officers. On the other end of the spectrum are scientists, who were on average likely to understate their income by as much as 35%. Journalists didn't rank very high in tax integrity either. On average people in the media and arts tended to understate their income by 25%.
Lawyers and CEO likely have a better appreciation for the consequences of getting caught cheating on their taxes.  It's also much more likely to reflect on their professional reputation.  I would also offer the observation that I believe that the vast majority of scientists, particularly academic scientists, are liberal, while lawyers and CEOs tend to be more mixed in their partisan outlook.   The media and arts are dominated by liberals as well.  Just sayin...

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