Americans Show Little Tolerance for Tax Cheats

Americans have little tolerance for any cheating on income taxes, regardless of whether the taxpayer is low-income or high-income, a small business or a large corporation.

While Americans are still against cheating on income taxes, support dipped very slightly from last year, according to a report from the IRS Oversight Board.

Among the findings from the 2013 Taxpayer Attitude Survey, the IRS found that 86% of Americans say it is not at all acceptable to cheat on income taxes, which is down one percentage point from last year’s survey.

The current attitude is still in line with past years with the peak coming in 2008 with 89% and the lowest point in 2003 at 81%. Tolerance for tax cheating (i.e. “a little here and there” or “as much as possible”) has always remained relatively low.

Three-quarters of respondents completely agreed with the statement “it is every American’s civic duty to pay his or her fair share of taxes,” which is the highest level recorded. And the public very much believes that no segment of taxpayers should be exempt from honestly paying taxes.

Only 39% believe the IRS maintains a proper balance between service and enforcement, while 55% say the IRS should receive extra funding to enforce tax laws. Compared to the 2012 survey, these percentages are down 4 and 7 points, respectively.

While IRS controversies in 2013 did not affect taxpayer satisfaction, it may have softened support for the IRS. While 78% reported being satisfied with their personal interactions with the IRS, only 59% believed the IRS should receive extra funding to assist additional taxpayers. Personal interaction satisfaction was up 2 percentage points from 2012, while belief in extra funding was down 8.

The survey also broke down how likely taxpayers were to use each of the IRS’ services. The most Americans (84%) said they were likely to call the IRS toll-free telephone line for help, with the average time spent on the phone at 13 minutes, up from last year. A close second were those who said they were likely to visit irs.gov for help (83%). Three-quarters of Americans said they were likely to visit an IRS walk-in office, mostly concentrated in lower income taxpayers.