(Washington, DC) American taxpayer support for overall compliance reached an all-time high, according to an annual survey commissioned by the IRS Oversight Board. Nearly nine out of ten Americans (88%) feel that it is “not at all” acceptable to cheat on your income taxes, the highest level recorded since tracking began in 1999 and up two points from 2004. Attitudinal support for compliance also remains strong, with nearly three out of four agreeing that it is everyone’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes (72%).
The 2005 IRS Oversight Board Taxpayer Attitude Survey tracks public sentiment towards noncompliance and also measures public opinion on a variety of other areas such as IRS customer service offerings, taxpayer satisfaction with IRS interactions and funding for the agency. The survey is conducted by NOP World.
Support for turning in tax cheaters also surpassed last year’s record high, with nearly one of every three taxpayers (30%) agreeing that it is everyone’s personal responsibility to report anyone who cheats on their taxes, a six point increase from 2004 and 11 points from 2003.
Moreover, the survey found that over eight out of ten taxpayers (82%) say that their own personal integrity has the greatest influence on whether or not they report and pay their taxes honestly– double the number who cite any other factor.
IRS Oversight Board Chairman Raymond T. Wagner, Jr. observed, “There seems to be many more taxpayers who believe it’s important to follow the rules and pay what’s owed than there are those who feel it is okay to get a free ride – that’s great news. And while most taxpayers continue to feel strongly that the IRS should target large corporations and high-income individuals who cheat on their taxes, they also believe it is important to ensure compliance from other groups, such as small businesses and lower income taxpayers. In other words, the great majority feels that everyone should pay what they owe – with no exceptions.”
In addition, the study found that 78 percent of taxpayers are satisfied overall with their personal interactions with the IRS – slightly down from last year and four points less than 2003. However, taxpayers continue to find the agency’s customer service options valuable, such as its publications, toll-free telephone lines, customer service representatives and web site.
Significantly, the study also found wide-spread support for additional IRS funding for both assistance and enforcement. Sixty-seven percent of taxpayers believe the IRS should receive extra funding for taxpayer assistance and 63 percent favor additional funding for enforcement, a slight shift from last year (63 percent vs. 62 percent).
“What these numbers tell us again this year is that the American people want balance in their tax administration system. While they want the IRS to actively pursue tax cheating, they also value the important services the IRS offers to help them comply with a very complex Tax Code. We believe that one of our most important responsibilities is to ensure that the IRS provides this critical balance between enforcement and customer service,” Board Chair Wagner concluded.