NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Americans Must Allocate More Time For Taxes This Year

February 19, 1999

The Internal Revenue Service says that it will take taxpayers four hours longer to do their taxes this year than it did just two years ago. Blame it on tax credits which took effect in 1998, as well as on opponents of serious tax reform.

  • By IRS estimates, it will take more than 22 hours -- three more than last year -- for someone who itemizes deductions to do the record-keeping, reading and form-filling necessary to complete an individual tax return.
  • Of the more than 23.7 million returns that had been filed through February 12, only 624,000 had been calculated and filled out by taxpayers themselves -- an indication that the complexities are driving taxpayers to hire professional preparers.
  • More than half of the early returns were filed by computer or by phone.
  • Those 13.3 million electronic returns represented an increase of 11.1 percent from the year before.

The average refund so far this year is $1,823 -- a 14 percent increase from 1998.

Source: Kerry Hannon, "Tax Refunds Up; Prep Time Too," USA Today, February 19, 1999.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues