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AARP Bulletin Survey on Income Taxes

Given the looming April 18th deadline for filing federal income tax returns, the AARP Bulletin commissioned a nationwide survey in February 2011 to assess Americans’ tax-filing experiences, their expectations of a refund this tax season, and their opinions on a few other issues related to taxes.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Over one in three (37%) adults age 21+ had filed their federal income tax returns by late February, when this survey was conducted.  Of the remaining adults who had not filed returns at the time of the survey, the vast majority (81%) expected to file by the April 18th deadline.
  • Of adults age 21+ who had already filed their return or who will file a return (“income tax filers”), over half (58%) expected to receive a refund.
  • Nearly six in ten (59%) of those who expected a refund said that they expected to either pay down debt with most of their refund (33%) or save most of their refund (26%).   Less than two in five (37%) expected to spend most of their refund.
  • The majority of income tax filers said that someone else prepares their tax return for them.  Slightly more than half rely on either professional tax preparers (32%) or accountants (22%) to prepare their returns. Just over one-third (36%) of income tax filers said that they (or their spouse) prepare their own income tax return.
  • Only one in ten (10%) adults age 21+ indicated that they know anyone who has cheated on their income taxes.
  • When asked whether they think the federal budget deficit can be closed with spending cuts alone or if they think taxes will also need to be raised, approximately half (49%) of adults age 21+ said that they think spending cuts alone will close the deficit, while just under four in ten (38%) said that they believe taxes will also need to be raised.

The survey was conducted for AARP by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) using its telephone omnibus survey service.  Interviews were conducted from February 25 through February 27, 2011, among a nationally representative sample of 1,010 adults ages 21 and older.  For more information, please contact S. Kathi Brown at

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