8 in 10 Taxpayers Need Professional Help
More than 1,000 taxpayers, ages 22 to 64, shared their tax-season thoughts as part of an H&R Block consumer behavior survey. The results indicate a surprising lack of education about basic tax information and benefits that are available to most taxpayers.
Because the standard April 15 filing deadline falls on a Sunday this year and due to a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., that affects every state, taxpayers have until April 17 to file their tax returns. But only 22 percent of survey respondents identified the right date.
A taxpayer's phone line -- whether it be a landline, mobile or Internet-based -- is worth $30 to $60 using the IRS standard refund, but four in 10 respondents weren't aware of the long-distance telephone excise tax refund, and 46 percent admitted not knowing how much the refund could be worth.
H&R Block asked taxpayers questions that identified common behaviors and opinions about filing taxes:
- Though nearly one-fifth of respondents planned to put off filing until April, more than three-fourths, 78 percent, of taxpayers couldn't identify the right deadline. Forty-two percent of respondents believed the official deadline was April 15. A mere 22 percent had the right deadline.
- While 43 percent planned to claim the telephone tax refund this year, nearly the same percentage, 38 percent, couldn't identify what the refund was. Of those who said they would claim the refund, almost half, 46 percent, admitted they didn't know how much it was worth.
- Being a parent didn't help taxpayers identify the amount of the tax credit available for having a child. Nearly two-thirds of taxpayers, 62 percent, said they didn't know how much the Child Tax Credit is worth, and just 22 percent was able to identify it correctly as $1,000 per child.
Though it has the potential to affect more people every year, only a handful of taxpayers are concerned about the impact of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) this year. Less than half, 47 percent, said they were familiar with the "stealth tax," which is triggered by personal exemptions, large numbers of miscellaneous itemized deductions or medical expenses, or by Incentive Stock Option (ISO) plans, and only 4 percent said they were concerned about the tax.