April 15 usually marks the deadline for Americans to file their taxes. But as with so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic means that April 15 doesn’t mean the same this year as it has previously.
Last year, the government delayed the required tax filing until July 15 because of COVID-19. This year, the extension is shorter: only until May 15.
But for most people, it really doesn’t matter. Most (56%) in the latest Economist/YouGov poll, which was conducted April 10 – 13, said they had already filed. Another 7% said they would do so before the original April 15 deadline. About half of Americans who intend to file taxes this year (47%) said they will prepare them themselves, as opposed to having someone else do it for them (39%).
More than four in five Americans who prepare their own taxes (84%) will use a tax preparation software. One in eight (12%) rely on paper forms.
Those under 30 were the least likely to have filed already (44% had, 28% had not), and those in the Northeast (63% v 21%) and Midwest were more likely to have already sent in their taxes than people in the South (52% vs 32%) and West (51% vs 33%). But this is a question 15% of Americans overall preferred not to answer.
Nearly half (48%) of those who had not filed yet say they expected to take advantage of the delayed deadline.
Two-thirds of filers (68%) expect that they will get a refund. Only one in five (18%) think they will have to pay more. Getting a tax refund is preferable by a two to one margin (50% vs 23%), even though it means extra money is withheld during the year.
There is little difference by party. Democrats (55%) like refunds only a little more than Republicans do (49%). Two-thirds of those who expect a refund (66%) think that’s the better approach, as do one-third (34%) of those who expect to pay more this year.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between April 10 - 13, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample