53 percent of adults under age 30 have a favorable impression of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), compared to 40 percent of the same group with an unfavorable impression of America’s federal tax collection agency.
According to Pew Research, the younger someone is, the more likely that person is to have a positive view of the IRS. Dislike of the agency peaks between ages 50-to-64; not coincidentally, those are the top earning years for Americans with higher education degrees.
Young adults trust the IRS more so than any other generation, which is unusual in light of our historic distrust of other major institutions. For instance, the Harvard Institute of Politics found that only 36 percent of us trust the Supreme Court, and only 47 percent of us trust the military. Not only is this less than our parents and grandparents, these numbers are down from our responses just one year ago. Republican millennials still report levels of trust that are generally the same as they were last year; our Democrat peers report a large loss of trust that pulls down the generational average.
It’s easy to underestimate just how much data we send to the IRS. Those agents know our Social Security numbers, how much we make, who we make it from, what we buy (depending on deductions), whether we’re in school, if we’ve moved, and what property we own.
The IRS is bad at securing all that data. Just last year, the agency suffered a hack and then lied about it. According to the Washington Times, “Investigators said nearly 1 million accounts were potentially targeted, and nearly 360,000 people actually had their accounts broken into. That’s far more than the 220,000 hacks the tax agency initially acknowledged.”
When the IRS wants data that you haven’t provided, the agency will simply take it. The IRS uses a system called “Stingray” to spy on cell phone users. Stingray – also in use by the FBI and CIA – mimics a cell phone tower and pulls data from phones within range. Data culled by the device can hone in on where a cell phone user is making a call or sending a text.
In 2015, the IRS agreed to get a warrant before spying on citizens. How considerate of them. Still, it remains unknown if the IRS has made good on that promise. To make matters worse, the man at the helm of the IRS is still John Koskinen – the same John Koskinen who lied under oath and destroyed emails that were under subpoena.
Millennial trust has landed on an agency that least deserves it. Yet the irony of big government is that even if we didn’t trust them a bit, we’d have to pay up all the same.