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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > IRS

Most Americans Dislike IRS: Pew Poll

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The American public continues to express favorable opinions of major federal agencies, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center.

The single exception among agencies tested was the Internal Revenue Service.

As the current tax season hits its stride, Pew’s survey found that 45% of respondents had a favorable opinion of the tax agency, while 48% had an unfavorable one.

These attitudes have held steady over the past several years, Pew reported.

Pew’s analysis was based on telephone interviews conducted in early January among a national sample of 1,504 adults 18 or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It asked respondents about eight major goverment agencies.

The center found sharp partisan differences in views of the IRS. Republicans were negative by about two-to-one, while Democrats were positive by a similar margin.

Forty percent of independents had a favorable attitude, while 55% had an unfavorable one.

Republicans and those leaning in the GOP’s direction who agreed with the Tea Party were especially negative about the IRS, with just 15% viewing it favorably.

In contrast, 37% of Republicans who eschewed Tea Party positions had a favorable view of the agency.

Fifty-two percent of women viewed the IRS favorably, compared with 38% of men.

Majorities of Gen X and Gen Y adults expressed a favorable view of the agency, while a majority of baby boomers were negative.

Only modest differences appeared across income levels:

  • Households with less than $30,000: 49% favorable
  • Households with $30,000 to $75,000: 43% favorable
  • Households with $75,000 and more: 45% favorable

Following are the ratings of other agencies in the survey (favorable vs. unfavorable):

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 70% vs. 23%

This highly regarded agency was hit by criticism in the autumn for its handling of the Ebola virus outbreak.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: 68% vs. 17%

No partisan divide here, as Democrats, Republicans and independents held favorable views.

Department of Defense: 65% vs. 26%

DOD had the lowest difference in favorability between Republicans and Democrats.

Environmental Protection Agency: 59% vs. 32%

Republicans’ views shifted from about equally favorable and unfavorable in 2014 to unfavorable in 2015, while Democrats’ became more favorable.

Central Intelligence Agency: 54% vs. 33%

Democrats’ negative views of the CIA rose by 24 points in the past five years, while their positive views fell by nine points.

Department of Veterans Affairs: 52% vs. 38%

The VA’s favorability rating plummeted 16 points between October 2013 and January 2015.

National Security Agency: 51% vs. 37%

NSA’s favorability was nearly unchanged since October 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden revealed the agency’s data-mining activities.

— Check out IRS’ 12 Tax Scams to Avoid in 2015: The Dirty Dozen on ThinkAdvisor.


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