Personal Finance

Just how far would Americans go to avoid the IRS?

IRS headquarters in Washington.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Americans' loathing for the tax man runs deep. A new survey attempted to quantify just how deep.

It turns out that people in the U.S. hate the IRS more than several maligned figures — including O.J. Simpson — according to an online WalletHub survey.

The survey, which polled about 1,000 taxpayers on March 15-16, asked people to rank famous names they prefer to the IRS. More than half said they prefer Pope Francis (52 percent) to the IRS, while a perhaps-surprising number said they actually prefer controversial figures like Bill Cosby (14 percent), Vladimir Putin (12 percent) and Simpson (8 percent) to the tax agency. Those surveyed were allowed to choose multiple answers.

Respondents were also asked what they were willing to do in order to never pay taxes again.

Some 27 percent said they'd be willing to get an "IRS" tattoo to get out of paying taxes. Other popular choices included cleaning Chipotle toilets for three years (11 percent); naming a first-born child "taxes" (8 percent); selling a kidney (6 percent); and spending a year in prison (4 percent). The majority of survey takers, 55 percent, chose "other."

"People are frustrated paying taxes on things like Social Security," said Marty Durbin, a certified public accountant in Texas. "It's just another slap for those who are paying money to support government programs they don't necessarily like."

Only 14 percent of those polled said they thought the IRS should be abolished, but more than half said there was room for improvement. Twenty-three percent said the agency is doing a decent job or better. Meanwhile, in response to a different question, 1 in 5 people said they would be willing to hide money offshore if they wouldn't be caught.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.
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As for Tax Day fears, more than 36 percent of respondents said they were most concerned about making a math mistake. In contrast, only about a quarter said they were worried about identity theft; 19 percent feared getting audited; and 19 percent were scared they wouldn't have enough cash to pay their taxes.

While math mistakes certainly can cause headaches, tax fraud and identity theft is a serious and growing problem, costing Americans billions of dollars in stolen refunds each year.

Finally, survey respondents were also asked what otherwise unpleasant activities they would rather perform instead of doing taxes. While most went with the relatively safe choice of "laundry," 47 percent said they would rather cook Thanksgiving dinner for their in-laws, 35 percent said they would rather talk about sex with their kids, and 13 percent would be willing to spend a night in jail.

The survey also asked "who would you most like to punch in the face?" and provided them with the seven choices, including an IRS agent. Fifty-four percent said Donald Trump; 14 percent said Hillary Clinton and only 4 percent said an IRS agent.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama
Most Americans would like to punch Donald Trump

"The IRS will never win any popularity contests, but the numbers show we are working hard to help taxpayers," IRS spokesman Matt Leas told CNBC. "We want to thank the more than 75 million taxpayers who've already filed their taxes — over half of those who will file tax returns this year. More than 80 percent of those have received refunds averaging $2,945."