Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Overwhelming majority believe tax compliance is civic duty

Doeren Mayhew 
Overwhelming majority believe tax compliance is civic duty

Since 2002, the IRS Oversight Board has conducted an annual survey of American taxpayers and their views on IRS administration and tax compliance. This year's survey, conducted for the 2011 tax year, reveals that 72 percent of Americans view accurately complying with tax law as their civic duty.

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, however, 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, returning to its 2009 level.

Personal integrity inspires compliance
Personal integrity was the factor that taxpayers said most influenced their decision to honestly report their income for tax purposes. Seventy-nine percent of taxpayers told the Board that personal integrity has a "great deal of influence" on their compliance. Third party reporting of financial information influenced approximately 65 percent of taxpayers; and fear of an audit influenced just over 59 percent of taxpayers to comply.

Public frequently uses IRS tools
The Board also described taxpayer attitudes toward IRS customer services, such as its toll-free telephone helpdesk, the agency's website, and e-filing opportunities. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed rated the IRS toll-free customer service number as "very important," which represented a slight decrease from 2010. Additionally, 70 percent of taxpayers rated the IRS website as "very important," the same figure as reported last year. Sixty-eight percent of taxpayers reported that having opportunities to electronically file their returns was "very important," representing a one-percentage point decrease from 2010.
Taxpayer services that appeared less important included the ability to email the IRS directly with questions (rated as "very important" by 47 percent of taxpayers). Also less important were community-based tax clinics (26 percent rated them "very important"), tax assistance vans at locations far from IRS offices, and computer terminals located at a library or shopping mall.

IRS Oversight Board, 2011 Taxpayer Attitude Survey, January 30, 2012

Contact Doeren Mayhew for more information.

If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

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