Tax Procrastinators: When Do Americans Actually File Their Taxes? [Survey]

Tax Procrastinators

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It’s unlikely that when the word “fun” comes to mind you think of doing your taxes. It can be complicated, irritating, and more than a little overwhelming to try to work out your financial details every year, especially if you’ve had a major life change like buying a home, receiving a promotion, or growing your family through marriage or children.

These occasions are certainly worth celebrating, but they don’t exclude you from Tax Day—everyone has to file their taxes eventually, whether through working with a professional accountant or handling the process themselves, either online or on paper.

Because it’s such a tedious and oftentimes difficult process, it’s easy to see why people tend to put off doing their taxes for as long as possible. But just as there are some people who procrastinate right up until the Tax Day deadline, there are those who prefer to get the unpleasant process over with immediately.

With the beginning of tax season looming (though slightly delayed this year), we decided to see what people prefer more—filing their taxes as soon as they can or waiting until the last minute—and how those filing preferences compare state-by-state as well as by gender.

Methodology

To determine tax-filing preferences, our team surveyed over 2,500 people from across the U.S. about when they usually file their annual taxes. Respondents were asked to select a typical filing period from a range of 5 possible options:

  • As soon as they have their forms
  • About a month before Tax Day
  • About a week before Tax Day
  • On Tax Day
  • After Tax Day

Using the survey responses, we compiled insights based on respondents’ gender and the U.S. state in which they reside and file their taxes. You can see the results of our survey analysis below!

When Americans File Their Taxes: Overall

When do americans file their taxes

The overall results of the survey were surprising and, dare we say it, a bit difficult to believe. Half of all survey respondents reported that they file their taxes as soon as they have all the forms in hand — a discovery that had us re-examining our expectations for this survey and for Americans’ tax season proactivity in general.

Based on these results, respondents demonstrate a preference for early filing – unless they are being a bit too generous with themselves in their responses.

It’s important to note that last year was a bit of an anomaly with respect to taxes for two primary reasons: the tax deadline was extended to July 15th 2020, and government financial relief, intended to offset some of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, was received more quickly if you filed your taxes, which naturally encouraged many people to file their taxes early and gain access to their stimulus checks.

The States Filing Their Taxes the Earliest

The states that file their taxes the earliest

Wyoming was the state with the highest percentage of respondents most likely to file taxes the moment all of the forms were available, with nearly 60% of those surveyed reporting that they habitually file as soon as possible. Florida came in second at 54.9%, followed by Arizona and Wisconsin.

Overall, there were 9 states where 50% or more of the respondents file their taxes as soon as they are able to, with Oregon coming in just under that 50% threshold at 49%. There are no distinct regional differences apparent from these results.

The States Filing Their Taxes the Latest

States that file their taxes the latest

Of course, not everyone across the country is quite so on top of their tax returns every year. Our survey revealed a tie for first place between Texas and California, with just under 30% of their respondents reporting that they take care of their taxes either on or after Tax Day. Maryland followed closely, with 27.5% of respondents waiting to file. Again, there are no distinct regional differences apparent in these results.

To understand these results, it may help to know that for many people, April 15th is specifically dedicated to filing their taxes, and taking care of it beforehand doesn’t occur to them or is out of the question.

However, there are several good reasons to file your taxes early, including expediting your tax return, ample time to fulfill tax debts, and identity theft prevention, among others. Since most people seem to file their taxes early these days, it’s not a bad idea to jump on that trend and avoid any potential issues associated with delayed filing.

When Men and Women File Their Taxes

Men vs Women When do they file their taxes

Our survey results suggest that while gender doesn’t seem to be much of a distinguishing factor with respect to filing preferences, there are some small differences between the way men and women approached their taxes. A slightly larger percentage of women than men report filing their taxes immediately upon receiving the forms, whereas men are nearly 2% more likely than women to wait until Tax Day to file.

However, similar percentages of men and women report filing their taxes either a month or week in advance of the Tax Day deadline, so there seems to be some consensus between men and women that filing early is the better option.

Final Thoughts

Tax season can make even the most seasoned taxpayers nervous, and it can be more of a challenge if you end up owing money. However, there are several options for paying that money out, including through credit cards.

You might not be aware that there are actually a number of potential benefits to using a credit card for your tax return, chief among them the opportunity for additional expendable income—something we can all get excited about, no matter how long we wait to file our taxes. So before you dive into your tax forms, take a moment to review your personal finances and consider the best approach to your taxes this year.


Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

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