Taxpayers Give Preparers the Thumbs Up


Taxpayers Give Preparers the Thumbs Up

A recent Harris poll revealed that 59% of individual taxpayers paid someone to prepare their taxes. Ninety-six percent of the taxpayers who used a tax preparer were either very satisfied (76%) or somewhat satisfied (20%) with the service they received. Fewer than four percent of those polled were dissatisfied with the service rendered by their tax preparer.

The poll also showed there was a positive correlation between satisfaction with a preparer and the level of a taxpayer’s income. Fifty-seven percent of taxpayers with incomes below $15,000 were “very satisfied” with their tax pro whereas 84% of taxpayers with incomes over $75,000 said they were.

Other findings:

  • Forty-four percent of those polled wanted a “completely different” tax system than the current one.
  • Sixty percent favored a flat tax over the current system.
  • Fifty-seven percent opposed replacing the current system with a national sales tax.

The poll was conducted during this year’s tax season and included responses from over 1,000 adults nationwide.

IRS Sets Record for Web Visits

It didn’t take long for the IRS to set a new record for visits to its Web site. This spring the service recorded 531.3 million online visits from January 1 to March 21. The number represented a 155% increase over the same period last year.

The IRS also reported that the number of individuals who filed their tax returns electronically this tax season increased 19% over last year. The service received 5,647,000 returns by Telefile (e-filed by phone) and 23,346,000 returns e-filed by computer.

Overall computer e-filed returns increased 26.9%. Tax professionals prepared 20.9 million (up 19.8%) and individual taxpayers filed 2.4 million (up 161%) of the e-filed returns.

“We’re pleased with this response to our invitations to go electronic,” said IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti in a statement released recently by the service.

The IRS shouldn’t break out the champagne just yet, however. Despite impressive increases in Web-site and e-file activity, the small number of home computer e-filers—accounting for only 2% of the total 111,507,000 returns received this year—indicates that the majority of taxpayers are reluctant to make the leap into cyberspace when it comes to filing their taxes.

An online survey, performed during the 1999 tax season, revealed only 1.4% of all individual taxpayers had planned to file their tax returns this season electronically through their home computers.

The survey, conducted by Jupiter Communications in New York City, did offer some good news for CPA tax practitioners. One-third of the taxpayers who said they would e-file for the 1999 tax season also said they planned to hire an accountant to prepare the return.

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