Taxpayers Ready to Do More to Fight Tax Fraud

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Taxpayers are willing to go through more steps when preparing their tax returns, such as confirming their identifications and proving additional documentation, if it can help combat tax fraud and identity theft, according to a new survey.

The survey, by H&R Block, found that 96 percent of consumers are willing to take action to combat tax fraud. Some of the top responses include answering additional questions on their returns, providing additional documentation, using a professional tax preparer who is regulated by the Internal Revenue Service and answering questions to confirm their identity when using do-it-yourself software or Web sites.

“We believe challenging suspicious activity—before returns get to the IRS—is the right thing to do,” said H&R Block president and CEO Bill Cobb in a statement. “Consumers agree.”

This is the second year for the survey, conducted by the Tax Institute at H&R Block and ORC International, which shows an increase in taxpayer willingness to engage from a 2014 survey.

The survey respondents believe that fraudulent returns are most likely to originate from do-it-yourself tax preparation software or Web sites, with the percentage of people who believe this growing 14 percentage points from last year (68 percent vs. 54 percent).

Among the 63 percent of survey respondents who use a professional tax preparer, 90 percent support requiring tax preparers to meet minimum training standards. This is consistent with last year's findings of 89 percent.

The survey found that consumers support consistent filing requirements, regardless of how they file their taxes. Eighty-eight percent of all respondents support requiring tax forms and documentation requirements to be the same whether using a professional tax preparer or DIY software or Web sites. That is consistent with last year's finding of 86 percent.

Consumers who prepare and file their own tax returns support requiring minimum standards for DIY tax preparation software and Web sites, according to the poll. Among the 30 percent of respondents who use DIY tax preparation software, 92 percent support requiring DIY tax preparation software and Web sites to meet minimum standards. This is consistent with last year's findings of 91 percent.

"Tax fraud and improper payments are at least a $20 billion problem,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “Whether they file their taxes with a tax preparer or with do-it-yourself software, consumers believe that tax preparers, software providers, government and they themselves have responsibility to solve this problem. For their part, they are willing to take several actions including confirming their identity and answering more questions.”

To see the complete survey results, click here.

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