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No tolerance for tax cheats

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Is it OK to cheat on your income taxes? No, say the vast majority of taxpayers participating in a new survey by the IRS Oversight Board. (IRS Oversight Board 2014 Taxpayer Attitude Survey, 12/8/14)

Alert: More than nine out of 10 taxpayers say that cheating on taxes isn’t acceptable.  

But the survey also points up several other concerns.

According to the IRS Oversight Board survey, 94% of the 1,000 respondents said that it is every American’s civic duty to pay his or her fair share of income tax, the same percentage registered in the prior year.

Yet only 61% trust the IRS to fairly enforce the country’s tax laws.

The trust level was significantly higher among taxpayers ages 18 to 24 than it was for those age 65 years and older—73% to 56%.

Notably, taxpayer satisfaction with their personal interaction with the IRS dropped in 2014 to 74%, the lowest level of satisfaction ever recorded by the Oversight Board. In the Board’s view, the decline reflects the impact of reductions in walk-in office services, lower levels of service on IRS toll-free assistance lines and other areas affected by budget cuts.

The survey found that 61% expressed support for providing the IRS extra funding to assist more taxpayers over the phone and in person, while 56% support extra IRS funding to enforce the tax laws.

“There are a number of takeaways from the latest IRS Oversight Board 2014 Taxpayer Attitude Survey,” said Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr. in a press release.  

“First, in spite of all the controversy over the past few years, there is still no tolerance for tax cheating. More than nine out 10 taxpayers cite personal integrity as the greatest influence on whether they honestly report and pay their taxes. This goes to the heart of our federal tax system, which is based on voluntary compliance.

“Second, although the IRS still has a way to go to regain the public’s trust, the survey suggests that most taxpayers, especially younger ones, trust the IRS to enforce the tax laws.

“This brings me to my third and last point,” continued Cherecwich. “Taxpayer satisfaction with IRS customer service has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade. The Board believes this can be directly tied to deep cuts in IRS funding which have served only to punish honest American taxpayers who must endure long wait times over the IRS toll-free telephone lines and at walk-in centers.”

 

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