Last week's column on the conviction and 13-year sentence of tax protestor Irwin Schiff prompted a hail of decidedly angry e-mail, some of which questioned my intelligence, while another stated that it was too bad my children weren't dying in Iraq.

Try as I might, I somehow missed the connection between Schiff's prison term and the U.S.'s involvement in Mesopotamia, but I digress.

The subject of tax compliance rears its ugly head once again in this space, and this comes straight from the Internal Revenue Service's Oversight Board.

If you had read any of the responses to my last column, you'd know that I'm accused of complicity with any and all government agencies -- particularly those that have the temerity to mandate that citizens pay taxes.

So a suggestion to my detractors is to click out, before you once again begin reaching for the Pepto-Bismol --or the keyboard to fire off another exchange.

Apparently, support for taxpayer compliance has reached an all-time high, according to an annual survey commissioned by the Oversight Board.

The survey found that nearly nine out of 10 Americans, or 88 percent, felt that wasn't at all acceptable to cheat on income taxes. That's the highest level recorded since the IRS began tracking compliance statistics back in 1999, and a two-point uptick from the 2004 numbers.

Ever wanted to turn in someone you knew was filling out a 1040 that contained about as much truth as Al Capone explaining away his whereabouts on Valentine's Day in 1929?

A college acquaintance of mine once sent away for, and received, a minister's license, despite having last attended church during Lyndon Johnson's administration. He subsequently was able to reap the tax benefits of being a man of the, ahem, cloth, by holding once-a-week sermons, accompanied by a Blue Oyster Cult soundtrack. Not exactly the uptight atmosphere I remember growing up as a Roman Catholic during the 1960s and 1970s.

In another instance, a self-employed landscaper who drove a new Cadillac each year and lived in a 3,000-square-foot house tried on an annual basis to convince the IRS that his business was actually losing money. Eventually, the service sent an auditor for a visit, and he now drives a much older car and lives in a far smaller house.

I know I was tempted to turn canary on more than one occasion, especially considering my long history of receiving modest refunds.

Apparently I was not alone in my ambition to become the town crier.

According to the survey, roughly one in every three taxpayers agreed on the responsibility to report tax cheaters, which was 6 percent higher than the responses from the year-ago period and an 11 percent spike from two years ago.

I'm wonder if the corporate scandals of a few years back caused us to become more vigilant watchdogs on all things financial, including taxes?

I'll admit I'm tempted to fib once in a while. But since both the New York State Department of Taxation and the IRS each address me on a first-name basis, I figure why ruin a good relationship?

It's either be truthful, or found an ashram.

By the way, is that tax-deductible?

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