Majority Pay Someone To Do Their Taxes

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 9 2013 3:07 PM

Majority of Americans Will Pay Someone Else To Fill Out Tax Returns This Year

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These days, few Americans sit down with a pencil and calculator to fill out their tax forms

Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Will you do your taxes by yourself this year? Probably not, according to a watchdog report presented to Congress on Wednesday.

Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate estimates that almost 60 percent of filers will pay someone to prepare their returns this year, while 30 percent will use specialized software to help out. Without this assistance most taxpayers would be lost considering the tax law comes in at nearly 4 million words, said Olson, who ranks complexity as the most serious problem facing taxpayers.

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"Businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements," notes the Associated Press. "That's the equivalent of 3 million people working full-time, year-round."

The complexity of the tax code is only heightened by how often it changes—almsost 5,000 times since 2001.

But while Americans may hate the complexity, they love the very things that make the code so wordy. The AP explains:

Americans like their credits, deductions and exemptions—the provisions that make the tax law so complicated in the first place. Would workers want to pay taxes on employer-provided health benefits or on contributions to their retirement plans? How would homeowners feel about losing the mortgage interest deduction?

The annual report has been broken down into a handy infographic by the NTA, which you can take a look at here.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.