Taxpayer satisfaction with personal interactions with the Internal Revenue Service remained high despite high-profile controversies in the past year, but there has been some decline in public support for IRS funding, according to an annual survey of taxpayer attitudes.
The survey, released last week by the IRS Oversight Board, found that the majority of taxpayers still support additional funding for IRS customer service and enforcement programs, although the number did decline this year. The Oversight Board has conducted its annual Taxpayer Attitude Survey since 2004.
The survey revealed a divide between taxpayers’ views of their personal interactions with the IRS and their overall opinions and support of the agency. While 78 percent of the taxpayers interviewed expressed satisfaction with the IRS, up two percentage points from last year, this contrasts with their views on IRS funding.
The survey found that 59 percent of respondents believe that the IRS should receive extra funding to assist more taxpayers, down eight percentage points since last year’s survey. Only 55 percent said that the IRS should receive more funding to enforce the nation’s tax laws, down seven points from 2012. In addition, only 39 percent of respondents said they believe the IRS maintains a proper balance between service and enforcement, down four points from last year’s findings.
In spite of the declining public support for additional funding, the survey found that taxpayers want various IRS customer service options, with 84 percent saying they are “very” or “somewhat likely” to call the IRS toll-free phone lines for help, 83 percent likely to visit irs.gov for assistance, and 74 percent saying they might visit an IRS walk-in office for assistance with a tax issue.
The survey also indicated that the vast majority of respondents—96 percent, up three points from last year—feel it’s important for tax preparers to meet standards of competency. Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision in Loving v. IRS, which ruled that the IRS should not have the authority to regulate tax return preparers.
Nevertheless, the survey revealed no erosion in taxpayer attitudes toward voluntary compliance: 86 percent of the public said it is not at all acceptable to cheat on income taxes, nearly the same level reported in the board’s 2012 survey.
The complete survey results are available at http://www.treasury.gov/irsob/reports/2014/IRSOB~TAS%202013.pdf.