Poll: Most Americans filing taxes online
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
The frantic ritual of racing to the post office to get tax returns
postmarked just in time to satisfy the Internal Revenue Service is
giving way to the online age.
Most people file their tax returns electronically now because it's
convenient, despite lingering concerns about the security of their
most sensitive financial information, according to a new AP-AOL Money
& Finance poll.
And they have more time than usual this year to file.
The tax filing deadline is Tuesday, April 17, because April 15 falls
on a Sunday this year and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a legal
holiday in Washington, D.C. Only 19 percent of the public knew early
this month about the two-day grace period, the poll found.
Half of those surveyed said they use a professional tax preparer to
file their returns, a quarter use a software program, 15 percent do
the returns the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, and 8 percent
ask a friend or family member for help, according to the survey
conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.
And almost half grouse that their taxes are unfair.
"When I look at my paycheck and see how much goes out, it makes me
sick," said Kimberly Hahn, a nurse from Bloomington, Ind. "It's like
you're paying to charity without deciding where it's going."
Like most people, Hahn wasn't aware of the extra two days past April
15 to file, but she said her husband would be filing their return
electronically on time. "He doesn't want to give it to the government
until he has to," she said.
Some 54 percent of tax filers say their returns are sent electronic-
ally, and that number is rapidly growing. Most say e-filing is "very
convenient," but people are less convinced it's "very safe," the poll
"As of right now, I still trust doing it the old-fashioned way," said
Joe Nichols, a nuclear medicine technician from Memphis. "I hear
horror stories about the Internet, people getting your identification
About 45 percent of returns were filed electronically through the
first week of April 2001, according to the IRS. This year, that number
was close to 70 percent at the same point. In all, the IRS expects
more than half of returns to be filed electronically.
More than six in 10 who were polled April 2-4 said they had already
filed their taxes. The average time spent preparing their returns was
just over eight hours. Only about one in 10 admitted to being a
procrastinator who would barely make the deadline.
Those expecting refunds were much more likely to have filed their
Some people were pushing the deadline -- and admitting to feeling
"I haven't done my taxes yet for the first year in a long time," said
Dianne Smith of Broken Bow, Okla. "I can't handle it. I've always
gotten mine done in February or March, but I started a new teaching
job ... and it's taken the life out of me. I feel very guilty."
Two-thirds said they expect to get money back.
"We generally apply it to some kind of debt," said Sharon Caughron, a
schoolteacher from Kenly, N.C., who has already filed electronically.
The most popular use of tax refunds is to pay off bills or pay down
debt, followed by saving the money or investing it.
More than half of those polled, 53 percent, said they think their
taxes are fair, according to the poll of 1,000 adults. It had a margin
of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Middle-income earners were more likely to feel the taxes they pay are
fair than those with high incomes and those with low incomes, who were
about evenly split on that question.
Ken Weeks, an architectural draftsman from Dayton, Ohio, was generally
"I'm one of the people who doesn't mind paying taxes," said Weeks. "I
read a lot about what the world is really like. Things aren't great
for everybody here, but people in this country are generally doing
AP Manager of News Surveys Trevor Tompson and AP News Survey Specialist
Dennis Junius contributed to this story.
On the Net:
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Don't forget: you have until midnight
*tommorow* night (Tuesday) to get your tax return in the mail and
*postmarked* this year due to the unusual arrangement of the calendar
and the holiday this year. PAT]