Gregory S. DuPont
Taxpayers Satisfied With IRS Interactions
But Support For Funding Softens
While most taxpayers say they are satisfied with their personal interactions with the IRS, public support for IRS funding has declined somewhat in the wake of high-profile controversies surrounding the agency, according to the results in an annual survey of taxpayer attitudes published by the IRS Oversight Board.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted in August 2013 showed there has been no deterioration in taxpayer attitudes toward voluntary compliance: 86% of respondents said it is not at all acceptable to cheat on income taxes, and 95% agreed that it is every American’s civic duty to pay his or her fair share of taxes. In addition, 96% of respondents said they think it is important that the IRS ensures that high-income Americans and corporations honestly pay their taxes, and 93% agreed that everyone who cheats on his or her taxes should be held accountable.
The results further showed that 78% of respondents are very or somewhat satisfied with their personal interactions with the IRS, up two percentage points from 2012. However, the findings also indicated that the survey participants were less certain about whether the IRS should receive additional funding to improve customer service and increase enforcement: 59% of respondents said they believe that the IRS should receive extra funding to assist more taxpayers, down from 67% in 2012; and 55% said that the IRS should receive more funding to enforce the nation’s tax laws, compared with 62% last year. In addition, only 39% of respondents said they believe the IRS maintains a proper balance between service and enforcement, down from 43% in 2012.
When asked what IRS service channels they are likely to use for assistance with a tax issue, 84% of the taxpayers surveyed said they are very or somewhat likely to call the IRS toll-free phone lines, 83% indicated they are likely to visit the IRS website, and 74% said they are likely to visit an IRS walk-in office.
The survey also showed that 96% of respondents believe it is important for tax preparers to meet standards of competency, with 80% saying they believe it is very important.
“Compared to 2012, taxpayer satisfaction with their personal interaction with the IRS did not appear to suffer from the widely-publicized IRS controversies in 2013,” the report said. “However, the results suggest the controversies led to a drop in taxpayer support for extra IRS funding and whether the IRS maintains a proper balance between service and enforcement.”