More than four out of 10 working Americans will have had an accountant prepare their taxes this year, primarily because they believe that that's the way to get the largest refund. More than half won't do their own taxes, instead going to an accountant, friend or family member.
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Those findings came from the Workanomix survey, sponsored annually by Accounting Principals. The survey found that high earners are not taking any chances with their tax refunds: Among those who make $100,000 or more annually, 66 percent say they want to be sure they claim the most deductions to get the biggest refund possible, compared with 49 percent for those who make between $30,000 and $50,000.
Further results show that men are more likely than women to do their own taxes by a 52 percent to 44 percent margin, and women are more likely than men to go to an accountant, by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent. Just a guess, but could it be because they don't find accountants to be so boring after all?
Not exactly, said Jodi Chavez, senior vice president of Accounting Principals. "It's more likely that women are finding themselves multitasking to a greater degree," she said. “Therefore they're outsourcing a critical function to a professional service, allowing them greater flexibility in their time management."
Moreover, the survey found that Millenials and Baby Boomers are most likely to turn to an accountant to get their taxes done, while Generation Xers have more of a do-it-yourself attitude. Specifically, those between the ages of 35-44 (58 percent) said they would be likely to do their own taxes, compared to younger taxpayers age 25-34 (47 percent) and older taxpayers age 55-64 (39 percent).
The survey was conducted by Braun Research among a nationally representative sample of 1,020 employed Americans age 18 and older, between February 15-19 of this year. The results have a margin of plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For those of us who have forgotten the material we learned in Statistics, that means it's pretty good.
A significant portion of us have cut back on our spending as a result of the payroll tax changes that took effect January 1 of this year, the survey indicated.
On average, workers are taking home $130 less per month, with their social life suffering most. Many have been forced to cut back most on going out to bars and restaurants (20 percent) and eating lunch out (19 percent). But nearly one quarter—22 percent—have not cut back on spending at all.
Workers have tapped into their retirement fund savings (401(k) or IRA) to cover a number of expenses, the survey says. These include unexpected health care costs, (25 percent) home or car repair (27 percent) and necessities during unemployment (22 percent). Despite the tougher times, money spent at work on coffee and lunch by workers has remained consistent year over year, with an average of $21.00 on coffee and $37.00 on lunch in 2012, and $21.32 on coffee and $$36.17 on lunch in 2013.
Why did the amount spent on coffee go up from 2012 to 2013, while the amount spent on lunch went down?
"It's similar to the result from a year ago," Chavez observed. "It probably reflects a number of things: more people are bringing their lunch from home to have healthier choices, and the cost of specialty coffees has gone up," she explained. "The cost of coffee in some cases might be equal to or greater than what you can purchase a value lunch for. And some people we spoke to will just not skip coffee, but they may skip lunch once in a while."
For those who won't do their own taxes this year, the reasons they give should be instructive to accountants. The largest number, 53 percent, want to be sure they will get the biggest refund. After that, 47 percent are afraid of making a mistake, 24 percent find the idea of doing their own taxes to be “daunting,” 21 percent are afraid of getting audited, 15 percent have a friend or family member do their taxes, while 9 percent say they are just too lazy.
So these are the reasons tax preparers have jobs. Anyone for tax reform?