Around 41 percent of taxpayer households contacted the Internal Revenue Service at least once over the past two years seeking help, says a survey commissioned by the IRS Oversight Board.
The most common reasons for contacting the IRS: seeking help with tax law questions or returns, requesting forms and resolving disputes or errors.
The study, conducted by Roper Public Affairs and announced Tuesday, found that 22 percent telephoned the IRS, 3 percent visited an IRS office, 25 percent visited the IRS Web site, 4 percent sent the tax agency an e-mail and 6 percent a letter. Some taxpayers contacted the IRS multiple ways.
While most taxpayers said they would prefer service from a person rather than an automated system, about half those who visited an IRS center or called during the past two years said they would be willing to consider using an online alternative to resolve their tax matter.
More than 80 percent said IRS service was better than or equal to service from other government agencies. But many also said the IRS wasn't doing enough to make the tax system fair. "However, these results may reflect a broader negative assessment of federal tax laws in general, rather than the IRS in particular," the report said.
Among other findings:
- 92 percent were confident in their ability to solve their financial problems in their everyday life.
- 17 percent wish they had better English reading and writing skills.
- 73 percent did not feel secure sharing personal financial information over the Internet, even with a government agency.
- 14 percent worried that people will take advantage of them when they get help with filing their taxes.
- 94 percent felt it was their civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.
The study, conducted this spring, consisted of a telephone survey of a random sample of 1,000 taxpayer households.