Fox News Poll

Poll: Half Satisfied with How Government Spends Tax Dollars

As the April 15 income tax deadline approaches, half of Americans say they are satisfied with the way the government is spending their tax dollars and a majority considers paying taxes an act of patriotism, according to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll.

While only five percent say they are "very" satisfied with how the government is spending their tax money, 45 percent are "somewhat" satisfied compared to 28 percent saying "not very" and 18 percent "not at all" satisfied. Men, women, Republicans, and Democrats are all equally satisfied with government spending, while young people are much more satisfied than those over the age of 60.

As for the money the government doesn't keep, respondents were most likely to say they plan to use their tax refund check to either pay off bills (35 percent) or put the money in savings (32 percent). Less than 10 percent said they had plans to buy something new with their tax refund.

It may surprise some people that favorable opinion of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) outweighs unfavorable opinion (45 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable). It may be even more surprising to learn that there are some people who claim to have never heard of the IRS (one percent).

In addition to a fairly respectable favorable rating, a solid majority (67 percent) has confidence in the tax collecting agency, a confidence rating higher than that of not only the news media, but also of the Catholic Church. Sixteen percent have "a great deal" of confidence and 51 percent have "some" confidence in the IRS.

"In a weird way, the leadership and strength being shown by the Republican administration in Washington may undermine some of the central themes of Republican ideology," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "As the war against terror has made strong government vital, it has also propped up the institutions of that strong central government. In times of crisis, people will rally even to the IRS."

And in this time of flag waving and national pride, 67 percent say they consider paying taxes an act of patriotism. With less than two weeks left to file, 13 percent of Americans say they have yet to start the process, 20 percent have started, but not finished filing their taxes, and 62 percent have already done their duty and filed their returns.

Polling was conducted by telephone April 2-3, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. I'm going to read you a list of people and institutions. Please tell me how much confidence you have in each. How much confidence do you have in:
(Rotate) SCALE: 1. A great deal 2. Some 3. Not much or 4. None at all 5. (Not sure)

  Great Deal Some Not much None (Not sure)
The military? 77% 19 2 1 1
The president? 59% 27 6 6 2
The public school system? 24% 48 16 9 3
The Congress? 19% 57 17 4 3
The Catholic Church? 18% 32 18 16 16
The Internal Revenue Service? 16% 51 17 10 6
The news media? 14% 49 23 12 2
Major business corporations? 12% 51 21 10 6

2. Which comes closest to your status for filing your 2001 income tax return?
SCALE: 1. Finished, already filed, 2. Started, but not finished, or 3. Not started yet 4. (Not sure)

  Finished Started Not started (Not sure)
2-3 Apr 02 62% 20 13 5
5-6 Apr 00 64% 20 10 6
7-8 Apr 98 67% 19 10 4
2-3 Apr 97 58% 24 13 5

3. If you receive a tax refund, what do you do with the money?
SCALE: 1. Pay off bills, 2. Buy something new, or 3. Save it 4. (Other/not sure/Never receive refund)

  Pay bills Buy Save (Not sure/Never receive)
2-3 Apr 02 35% 9 32 24
2-3 Apr 97 40% 11 26 23

4. How satisfied are you with the way the government is spending your tax money?

1. Very satisfied 5%
2. Somewhat satisfied 45
3. Not very satisfied 28
4. Not at all satisfied 18
5. (Not sure) 4

5. Do you consider voting an act of patriotism?

1. Yes 80%
2. No 15
3. (Not sure) 5

6. What about paying taxes, is that an act of patriotism?

1. Yes 67%
2. No 26
3. (Not sure) 7