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IRS Oversight Board 2008 Taxpayer Attitude Survey Released

(Washington, DC) The IRS Oversight Board released its 2008 Taxpayer Attitude Survey today. The survey has been conducted annually by the Board since 2002 to gain an understanding of taxpayers' attitudes on tax issues.

According to this year's survey, the vast majority of Americans find it unacceptable to cheat on one's income taxes. The survey indicates that 89 percent of those surveyed think it is "not at all" acceptable to cheat on their taxes – the highest level ever recorded for this question on the survey.

The survey also shows there is overwhelming support for requirements that tax preparers meet competency and ethical standards in order to enter the business. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed indicate that it is "very important" that return preparers meet standards of "ethical behavior," while 73 percent believe it is very important that tax preparers meet competency standards. Currently, not all paid preparers of federal tax returns are subject to regulation.

The vast majority of Americans, 81 percent, say that their personal integrity has a "great deal of influence" on whether they report and pay their taxes honestly – far more than their fear of an audit (36 percent) or information reporting to the IRS by third parties (40 percent).

In addition, most Americans support the IRS' efforts to make sure that all taxpayers honestly pay what they owe. More than 90 percent of those surveyed feel it is either "very important" or "somewhat important" that the IRS ensures that those across the economic spectrum pay their taxes—corporations (98 percent), high-income taxpayers (96 percent), small businesses (95 percent), and low-income taxpayers (91 percent).

As in previous surveys, a clear majority of Americans also support additional funding for the IRS to increase taxpayer service and tax law enforcement. Some 61 percent either "completely agree" or "mostly agree" that the IRS receive extra funding so it can assist taxpayers, while 60 percent support more funding to enforce the tax laws.

The IRS Oversight Board 2008 Taxpayer Attitude Survey and earlier surveys are available at www.irsoversightboard.treas.gov/reports/2009/IRSOB_2008-TAS.pdf .

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