Highlights from the IRS Oversight Board Annual Taxpayer Attitude Survey 2011 n1
n1 The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3 percent; changes from last year that fall within this range may not be statistically significant
The great majority of taxpayers continues to find cheating on taxes unacceptable
A large majority of taxpayers continue to express strong support for compliance with the federal tax code. Eighty-four percent of the general public surveyed feels that it is “not at all acceptable to cheat on one’s income taxes.” However, the share of the pubic holding this view is down three percentage points from 2010, reversing a three-point increase for that year. Only six-percent 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 eight percent in 2011. Nonetheless, tolerance for tax cheating continues to be widely viewed as unacceptable (see page 2).
Paying taxes is viewed as a civic duty; accountability for cheaters is strongly favored
The vast majority of the public – 72 percent – “completely agree” that “it’s every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.” The figure is up three percentage points from last year. Sixty-six percent “completely agree” that “everyone who cheats on their taxes should be held accountable.” This figure is three points below last year’s survey (see page 3).
Integrity remains by far the top reason to pay, while fear of an audit is down
Taxpayers continue to take a strongly ethical stance on paying taxes. Seventy-nine percent say that their “personal integrity” has a “great deal of influence” on whether they report and pay their taxes honestly and another ten percent say it is “somewhat of an influence.” Meanwhile, third-party reporting of financial information to the IRS influences 65 percent (37 percent are influenced “a great deal,” with 28 percent by “somewhat of an influence”). Fear of an audit remains the third most important influence to pay; down five points from last year to 59 percent (see page 5).