Today TaxMama® hears from Cheryl in the TaxQuips Forum who triggers a line of thought. Her client has under-reported income for many years. And it reminded me of other tax pros, including myself, who were asked by family members to help them under-report their income. The usual argument is “If you love me, you’ll file my taxes the way I ask you to.”
You can read my reply to Cheryl in the Tax Quips Forum. But I’d like to address the issue of family and friends trying to compel tax professionals to lie. How are we supposed to respond to people who ask us to commit a felony? To potentially cause us to lose our livelihood – or even to be sent to jail?
The answer is the same answer a young girl should give a young man who is asking her to do something she is too young to do, or not ready to do: “If you really love me, you wouldn’t ask me to do this.”
Over the years, I have seen these kinds of demands from people in all walks of life. It’s not only tax professionals who are asked to compromise their ethics by family and friends. It happens to convalescent hospital administrators, notaries, police officers, clerical staff, salespeople, etc. In fact, I’ve just run into some instances where people were put into such a position by family members. Often, this happens in immigrant communities (like mine), where people come from a different world where the government really is the enemy – and people really do have no recourse against governmental abuses.
I have one family member who didn’t speak to me until the day he died. And another, who respected me for my refusal. Ironically, often, the person making the illegal demand takes it to the family. Family pressure is brought to bear on the ethical person to help the liar. The good guy is treated like a villain – “Aw, c’mon. Go ahead and help Johnny out. Just this once!”
Here in America, we do have rights. We can fight off government abuses (most of the time) – especially in the tax system. So, I implore you, please, think carefully before asking someone to lie for you – in any capacity. Think about what you might really be costing this person you claim to love – just to shave a few bucks off your taxes, or license, or fees, etc. Then, don’t do it. Please – pass this on.
And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about situational ethics and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.[Note: If you were subscribed to the e-mailed version of TaxQuips, you’d be getting other exciting news and tips by e-mail, that never appear on the site. Please click on the join TaxMama.com link – it’s free!]
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