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Surprise! People Don’t Think Filing Taxes Is That Bad

Surprise! People Don’t Think Filing Taxes Is That Bad

April 15th is almost here again. As people hunker down to finish their income tax returns, we thought it would be a great time to see what Americans really think about doing their taxes. The results? A lot of people don’t think filing an income tax return is all that bad. In fact, 68% of people file their tax returns with the IRS before April 1st. (Tweet this.)

We used SurveyMonkey Audience to measure the attitudes and behavior of 350 people who are responsible for their families’ taxes. Here are the rest of the surprising results:

Tax chart - how do Americans feel about taxes

Only 44% of Americans either dislike or hate doing their taxes. 44% have neutral feelings, and 12% actually like filing their returns. (Tweet this.)

These numbers stayed pretty similar when we filtered the results by income level, education level, age and gender. Bottom line, the disdain we hear about doing taxes appears to be coming from the small but vocal 21% who hate doing their taxes.

Americans get a lot of help with their tax returns

 Most Americans get help filing their taxes

This relatively rosy outlook may be the result of the tax help 91% of Americans rely on. Most notably, 41% of people use online or software-based tax services (like TurboTax), and an additional 39% hire accountants to do the dirty work. (Tweet this.)

Because a lot of people aren’t filling out tax forms themselves, the types of problems they encounter tend to have more to do with getting their documentation together than making the numbers work out right. We asked people what part of doing their taxes they struggle with the most and found that 54% of people think the hardest thing is getting everything organized.

tax chart--the hardest part of doing taxes

Here are some other things we learned from the generally confident and content taxpayers we surveyed:

  • On average it takes people just over six hours to do their taxes.
  • 92% of people are at least moderately confident with the accuracy of their tax returns
  • 82% of people feel like they’ve given themselves enough time to get everything done
  • 80% of people file online
  • Only15% of people are moderately concerned (or more) about getting an IRS audit

Finally, we asked our respondents to rank filing taxes among a set of presumably unfun set of activities to see where taxes stood. Here’s the result:


  1. Moving
  2. Going to the DMV
  3. Doing taxes
  4. Going to the dentist
  5. Speaking in public
  6. Spring cleaning 


In your face, spring cleaning!

So, who are the unhappiest taxpayers?

When we used SurveyMonkey Analyze to slice and dice the data by gender, income and other demographic groupings, we saw pretty similar attitudes from almost everyone we surveyed. The one outlier was the relatively small set of people who don’t begin working on their tax returns until April. While 68% of Americans file their returns before April 1st, the people who don’t even start until April seem to have a much harder time. In fact, 48% of them “hate” doing their taxes, compared to just 10% of the people who start preparing their returns in February.

tax chart - tex refunds vs. when you start

People who start their taxes later are less likely to receive a tax refund, more likely to get audited, and less confident in the accuracy of their work. (Tweet this.)

It also takes late starters almost an hour longer to prepare their tax returns. To be fair to the procrastinators, these numbers only show a correlation between starting late and having a tougher time. It’s not clear that starting late causes these difficulties, but we did note that people who start their taxes late are also much more likely to wish they’d given themselves more time:

tax chart - starting your return late

Want to dig a little deeper into the data? Check out the detailed results from our tax survey. Better yet, learn more about an audience you’re interested in by creating a market research survey.

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