updated 2/23/2010 4:35:52 PM ET 2010-02-23T21:35:52

The fear of being audited on their income taxes is rising, one poll shows, even as more Americans say it's OK to cheat on a return.

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The IRS Oversight Board, which guides the Internal Revenue Service, reported that 13 percent of those polled last year said it was acceptable to cheat, up from 9 percent in 2008.

At the same time, 39 percent of respondents said their fear of an audit by the IRS had a "great deal" of influence on how honest they were in paying taxes.

That's up from 36 percent in 2008 and the highest level since the survey began in 2002, when 29 percent said the prospect of an audit kept them honest.

Yet, 81 percent maintained that their "personal integrity," not their fear, was the big factor in making them file correct returns to the government.

And almost 60 percent supported extra funding for the IRS to enforce tax laws.

The survey, which was taken in August, also suggested many Americans would approve of new regulations for tax preparers. Ninety-three percent said they supported competency requirements and 95 percent, ethical standards.

In January, the IRS said it plans to require tax preparers to pass competency tests and register with the government.

The survey randomly polled 1,000 U.S. adults in August 2009. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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