For many people, getting a flat tire on the way to the dentist after having a fight with a significant other would constitute a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. How to make it even worse? Having to file taxes, too, according to new analysis by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), which examined online financial- and tax-planning behaviors and perceptions. Overall, consumers reported that the tax-filing process remains difficult and mired in paper.
Per ADI, among consumers’ “most unpleasant experiences,” the top three are arguing with a significant other (23%), getting a filling at the dentist (21%), and changing a tire in the rain (19%). Doing taxes came in fourth, at 11%.
ADI’s report is based on aggregated and anonymized consumer data compiled by Adobe Analytics, which looked at 11.5 billion website visits between January 2014 and February 2017. ADI also looked at data from Adobe Reader desktop and mobile apps and the Adobe Fill & Sign mobile apps between January 2016 and February 2017. The last portion of the analysis included consumer information from the “2017 ADI U.S. Finance Survey,” which polled 1,000 U.S. consumers about online financial and tax planning.
Taking a closer look, ADI found the average consumer spends an estimated six hours preparing his taxes and must gather nine forms on average. Nearly half of Americans (46%) agreed that tax documents are the least desirable documents to work with. Looking forward, 42% of consumers said that an entirely electronic experience would make online tax-filing easier.
Filers reported their biggest headaches are finding paper documents (20%), printing a document in order to sign it (18%), and keeping track of the documents needed (15%).
Indeed, greater adoption of online document management could be a catalyst for a big shift toward simplification of the tax-filing process, as could cross-device capabilities. Since last February, consumers have signed 2.3x more documents via their mobile Fill & Sign app, according to Adobe Document Cloud. Overall, 61% of consumers said the ability to sign their online taxes electronically has simplified the operation tremendously.
Also of note, sites that offer online tax-filing services see 10x more monthly visitors and 30% higher number of visits per month during the January to April tax season, according to ADI.
However, ADI found, online tax-filing completion rates have stagnated since 2014. One interesting note: The number of consumers who file their taxes on a smartphone are actually increasing in terms of completion rates. However, the mobile user base for filing taxes is so small (87% completed on desktop) that is has little effect on overall averages.
“A more difficult tax-filing process may be turning people away from the web,” said Becky Tasker, senior managing analyst at ADI. “There’s a huge opportunity here for online tax-filing websites that find ways to simplify the experience. It would be a real game-changer.”
ADI also found that Americans waste no time with filing their taxes online. Fifty-nine percent of online taxes are filed in January and February, while just 4% are filed on tax day. The procrastinators are mostly Millennials, according to ADI, with twice as many leaving their tax filings until the last 24 hours year over year (6.6% in 2016, 12.4% in 2017).
See the full report below, or click here to view it on SlideShare.
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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