Pew Survey: One-Third of Americans Like Doing Their Taxes

By Jason Bramwell

While many people believe doing their income taxes is a hassle, a recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows that a good portion of Americans don’t mind the process.

According to the national survey, which was conducted April 4 to 7 among 1,003 adults, about one-third of respondents (34 percent) say they either like (29 percent) or love (5 percent) doing their taxes. A majority of Americans (56 percent) have a negative reaction to doing their income taxes, with 26 percent of respondents saying they hate doing them.

The expectation of getting a refund is cited most often for why people like doing their taxes, but it is not the only factor, according to the survey.

When asked why they like doing their income taxes, 29 percent of respondents say they are getting a refund, while 17 percent say they just don’t mind it or they are good at it. Thirteen percent say doing their taxes gives them a sense of control, while the same percentage of respondents cite a feeling of obligation – that it is their duty to pay their fair share.

Among those who dislike or hate doing their taxes, most cite the hassles of the process or the amount of time it takes. Thirty-one percent of respondents say it is complicated, requires too much paperwork, or they are afraid of making mistakes, while 24 percent say it is inconvenient and time-consuming. Twelve percent of people surveyed say they dislike doing their taxes because of how the government uses tax money, while 5 percent say it is because they pay too much in taxes.

Overall, people with lower incomes are more likely to have a positive view of doing their taxes than those with higher incomes, the survey states. Forty-one percent of those with family incomes of less than $30,000 a year say they like or love doing their income taxes, compared with 30 percent of those with incomes of $75,000 or more. Blacks (52 percent) are far more likely than whites (28 percent) to say they like doing their taxes.

Democrats have a less negative view of doing their taxes than do Republicans or independents. Sixty percent of respondents who say they are Republican dislike or hate doing their taxes, and 32 percent like it or love it. Results are similar for independents – 62 percent dislike or hate it, and 31 percent like or love it. Democrats’ opinions are more mixed: Just under half (46 percent) either dislike or hate doing their taxes, while 40 percent like or love it.

Not Reporting Income Seen as Morally Wrong

Most Americans who participated in the survey (71 percent) believe not reporting all income on your taxes is morally wrong, while 19 percent say it is not a moral issue. Just 6 percent see this as morally acceptable.

This is down slightly from February 2006, when 79 percent said not reporting all income was morally wrong.

Republicans (78 percent) are more likely than both Democrats (68 percent) and independents (69 percent) to describe not reporting all income as morally wrong.

Across all demographic groups, the majority of respondents agree that not reporting all income is morally wrong, according to the survey. However, respondents with less educational attainment and lower family income are less likely than those with college degrees and higher incomes to say this.

About two-thirds of those with a high school diploma or less (65 percent) or incomes below $30,000 (66 percent) say that not reporting all income is morally wrong, compared with about three-quarters of those in higher income and education groups.

About the survey:

Most of the analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted April 4 to 7 among a national sample of 1,003 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in the continental US (500 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 503 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 229 who had no landline telephone).

The survey was conducted by interviewers at Universal Survey under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A combination of landline and cell phone random digit-dial samples was used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were conducted in English.

Some of the analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 9 to 13 among a national sample of 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (752 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 750 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 369 who had no landline telephone).

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