More than half of taxpayers in the U.S. find the tax filing process stressful and 39 percent are using online tax filing software, according to a new survey.

The survey, by the tax prep software provider TaxSlayer, found that 52 percent of taxpayers agree the filing process is stressful. When asked to name the most difficult part of the tax process, taxpayers cited as the number one stress point of gathering so many documents, followed in second place by understanding tax laws, and in third place the stress of not knowing if the results are correct.

In addition, 57 percent of Americans are not confident in their understanding of the U.S. tax code. That will probably be a much higher percentage next year, considering all the changes in the tax code with the passage last month of the far-reaching Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is puzzling many tax experts.

Tax refund uses

Taxpayers are split on how they plan to spend their refunds this year. Many are looking to pay off debts or build their savings and retirement accounts. Many others see their tax refund as an opportunity to splurge on jewelry or electronics, or enjoy an experience like a vacation courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Millennials are more likely to save their money, while those age 35 and over are more likely to pay off their debts. All age groups see a refund as an opportunity to treat themselves to a nice personal gift or vacation.

“Most taxpayers have very mixed feelings about tax season,” said Mark Kohler, senior tax advisor at TaxSlayer, in a statement. “They’re looking forward to their refunds, but are nervous about filing.”

In terms of tax prep, 39 percent of the 2,000 taxpayers polled said they use an online tax platform, with more than half (55 percent) of these users spending less than $100 on the cost of filing.

Only 18 percent of the taxpayers polled said they usually file in January, which isn’t surprising since tax season usually doesn’t start until relatively late in the month. Another 35 percent said they complete their taxes in February and 23 percent in March, while 18 percent file in April or later. Those taxpayers who file during the week of April 15 or later cited the primary reason as a natural tendency to procrastinate (28 percent), it takes a long time to prepare and file taxes (20 percent), and it’s a stressful process (10 percent). Taxpayers ages 55 and up seem to wait the longest to file their taxes, with 49 percent of this age group filing in March or later.

Nearly half (49 percent) of taxpayers think they are paying too much in taxes, while 36 percent believe they are paying just the right amount. Only 7 percent think they’re paying too little in taxes.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.