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According to the IRS’ Comprehensive Taxpayer Attitude Survey, 9 percent of people said it is OK to cheat “a little here and there” on their tax returns, while 3 percent said it is OK to cheat “as much as possible.”
Additionally, 5 percent of people disagreed that it is every Americans’ duty to pay their taxes – and 8 percent disagreed that everyone who does so should be held accountable. Nearly half of people do not believe it is their responsibility to report someone who cheats on his or her taxes.
And while the majority of people agree that they should have to pay taxes, nearly one-quarter think they should just have to pay what they feel is fair.
The survey also showed 30 percent of taxpayers do not trust the agency to protect tax records, enforce tax law and help people understand obligations. Trust is lower among educated and high-income taxpayers.
Only 64 percent of people with incomes over $150,000 said they trust the agency, and 65 percent of people earning between $100,000 and $149,999. That compares with 77 percent among people with incomes under $30,000.
The distrust in the tax agency – and attitudes toward cheating – come at a time when the agency is combating a decline in resources and staffing. That means it is conducting fewer audits.
The IRS said it audited just 0.45 percent of individual returns in fiscal 2019. The IRS audited 0.59 percent of individual tax returns, or about 892,000 returns, in fiscal 2018 – fewer than the year prior when audits were at their lowest level since 2002.
The IRS has fewer auditors now than at any point since World War II.
In fiscal 2019, the tax agency collected more than $3.56 trillion in tax revenues, including about $277 billion from individual income taxes and $1.98 billion in business taxes.