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IRS Oversight Board Releases Its 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey

Tax

By Ron Kramer

On January 30, 2012, the IRS Oversight Board issued its 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey. The IRS Oversight Board has conducted this annual survey since 2002 to gain an understanding of taxpayers' attitudes regarding tax compliance and other IRS matters. The survey has been expanded from time to time with the addition of questions designed to gather insights into taxpayer views concerning customer service, funding priorities, IRS performance, and other tax administration matters.

The complete 2011 survey document can be found at http://www.irsoversightboard.treas.gov.  

Highlights from the Findings of the 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey

  • The great majority of taxpayers continue to find cheating on taxes unacceptable and express strong support for compliance with the federal tax code
    • 84% of the general public surveyed feels that it is “not at all acceptable to cheat on one’s income taxes.” (down 3% from 2010).
    • Only 6% believe that cheating “a little here and there” is acceptable.
    • But the percentage of taxpayers who think it is acceptable to cheat “as much as possible” has increased to 8% in 2011 up from 4% in 2010. 
  • Paying taxes is viewed as a civic duty and accountability for cheaters is strongly favored
    • 72% of the general public – “completely agree” that “it’s every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.
    • 66% “completely agree” that “everyone who cheats on their taxes should be held accountable.”
  • Integrity remains the top reason to pay your taxes
    • 79% say that their “personal integrity” has a “great deal of influence” on whether they report and pay their taxes honestly and another 10% say it is “somewhat of an influence.”
    • Third-party reporting of financial information to the IRS influences 37% “a great deal” to report and pay their taxes honestly 
    • 34% are influenced a great deal by fear of an audit , another 25% are somewhat influenced by fear of an audit

Summary and Conclusions
In its report for 2011, The IRS Oversight Board concludes that support for U.S. income tax compliance remained high for the 2011 tax year, and since 2002, taxpayer attitudes about tax avoidance have generally held steady. Although this year the number of taxpayers who believe that paying income tax is their civic duty increased by three percentage points from 2010, the percentage of taxpayers who believe it is acceptable to cheat "as much as possible" on their returns increased by four percentage points from last year, and the percentage of taxpayers who believe it is not at all acceptable to cheat on income taxes decreased by three percentage points.

Is this dip in attitude a sign of the times?

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This advice is not intended or written to be used for, and it cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties that may be imposed, or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another person, any tax related matter.

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