Tax Time Shows Shifts In Online Behavior, Device Use
Junk food and candy beat out alcohol as American’s favorite vice when preparing taxes for filing, as the deadline approaches April 18. About 9% said they even fantasized about not fling to see what happens, according to findings in a recent Adobe Digital Insights report.
About 23% of those who file say the only thing worse than filling their taxes is arguing with their significant other, followed by 21% who admit getting a filling at the dentist is worse; 19%, changing a tire in the rain; and 11%, filing taxes.
The findings are based on aggregate and anonymize customer data between January 2014 and February 2017, from a variety of sources, such as 11.5 billion tax and financial Web sites within the U.S., and data from the Adobe Document Cloud during tax season, from January through April.
Despite an increase in use of online services, online tax completion rates continue to fall, indicating a need to improve the experience.
The overall online completion rate has dropped since 2014, with the decline primarily occurring on desktop. There’s an increase in completion rates on smartphones, but it is not enough to offset the overall declines. Smartphones only account for 8% of total online submissions.
Desktops account for 87% and tablets account for 5%. About 26% of people claim cross-device tax preparation has made their online filing easier.
Trevor Jones, senior analyst with Adobe Digital Insights, said from November through February, there was a huge influx of smartphone traffic, accounting for about 40% of all traffic. After February, there is a steep decline in smartphone visits as consumers shift to visiting the Web site and submitting taxes online via desktops.
Jones said marketers should become aware of this shift and change their strategy. It’s important to watch how and when consumers access their devices as they plan what to do with their refunds.
Online filings continue to push tax payers into submitting the documents just a little bit earlier each year. In 2014 and 2015, early filers began filing their taxes Feb. 3; 2016, Feb. 1; and 2017, Jan. 31. Millennials are bucking this trend. Twice as many are reportedly leaving their tax filing until the last 24 hours, with about 6.6% in 2016, and 12.4% saying they will file at the last minute in 2017.
Despite the decline in online filings, the tax filing Web site sees 58% more traffic coming from external links both off- and on-season, 30% higher number of visits per month, 27-times more pages viewed each month, and a total of 68.3 billion PDFs viewed in Adobe Reader.
Those participating in the survey signal they want a better digital way to manage tax preparation; the process is stuck in paperwork. On average, they spent six hours completing this year’s filing. Filers say their biggest headaches are finding paper documents, printing a document to sign, and keeping track of documents.
Some are still skeptical about doing everything online.
About 10% of those surveyed say keeping their financial documents secure is their single biggest headache when presented with a list of seven options. Some 61% say their ability to sign their online tax filing electronically has made taxes easier to do.