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Experian Consumer Tax Survey Report

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EDELMAN BERLAND Experian Consumer Tax Survey Report January 2016


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RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: To garner media-genic research around consumers’ understanding of tax-related identity theft and identity protection during tax time Research Methodology


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Tax filing, document storage and refunds continue to be increasingly electronic. 79% report filing their most recent tax return online, up from 73% in 2011. 18% scan and save their tax documents electronically, up from 6% in 2011. More than three quarters of respondents have used EFT for tax refunds. Consumer familiarity with tax-related identity theft has risen significantly in recent years and tax-filers are increasingly concerned about being affected. 76% are familiar with tax-related identity theft, up from 57% in 2014. 42% are concerned that someone could access their personal data through their tax return, up from 35% in 2014. Awareness of the IRS-issued PIN continues to grow over time, but most are still unfamiliar with the newer protections available to victims of tax-related identity theft. Less than half of tax-filers are aware of the IRS-issued PIN (47%) or victims’ ability to request copies of fraudulent tax returns (30%). Still, there is consumer interest in using an IRS-issued PIN to protect their identity during tax season. Key Findings


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Tax Filing & Refunds


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Most prepare their own taxes on their home network 39% Online-based tax preparation program 13% Tax preparation computer software 4% Without tax preparation software Q5: Who prepared your last tax return? Q6: Which of the following best describes how you prepare your documents prior to submitting your return? [Asked among respondents who prepare their tax returns themselves, n=556]


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Tax filing has become increasingly electronic over the past several years 37% of those who mail their taxes do not send their returns by certified mail Q7: How do you file your taxes? Q8: Do you send your tax returns by certified mail? [Asked among respondents who file their own taxes by mail, n=126] TOTAL ELECTRONIC 2011: 73% 2014: 79% 2015: 81% 2016: 79% ? 2011-16 +6


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Q9: What do you do with physical copies of your old tax documents? Q11: Have you ever used Electronic Funds Transfer to receive a tax refund? Americans are also increasingly utilizing electronic document storage and EFT as part of the digital trend -10 +12 ? 2011-16:


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Q21: How much of a tax refund, if any, do you expect to receive this year? Please include both your federal and state taxes in your estimation. Q22: How do you plan to use your tax refund this year? [Asked of those who expect to receive a refund, n=797] This year, most consumers expect to receive a tax refund and plan to use it toward their personal savings or paying down credit card debt 80% EXPECT A 2015 TAX REFUND (83% EXPECTED A 2014 TAX REFUND)


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Tax-Related Identity Theft


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Consumers are increasingly aware of tax-related identity theft and have growing concerns about being personally affected Q13: Prior to this survey, were you familiar with the concept of tax-related identity theft? Q10: To what extent are you concerned that your tax preparer/service is susceptible to losing your information? [Asked among those whose taxes are prepared by someone else, 2014 n=510, 2015 n=435, 2016 n=439] Q12: Prior to this survey, to what extent were you concerned that someone could access your personal data, such as your Social Security number or banking information, through your tax return? Familiarity with Tax-Related Identity Theft ? 2014-16: +19 FAMILIAR Concern about Tax Preparers Losing Personal Data (Shown off % use tax preparer) Concern about Personal Data Breach Through Tax Return ? 2014-16: +7 CONCERNED ? 2014-16: +9 CONCERNED


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Q19: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I am concerned about becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft. Q14: Have you or anyone you know ever been a victim of tax-related identity theft? Q15: You mentioned that you were a victim of tax-related identity theft. Which of the following actions did you take after this incident? [Asked of tax-related identity theft victims, n=126] Q16: And, approximately how long did it take for you to receive your tax refund after you were informed that your identity had been stolen? [Asked of tax-related identity theft victims, n=126] 55% are concerned about becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft 13% have been a victim of tax-related identity theft 15% know a victim of tax-related identity theft Victims of tax-related identity theft most commonly file a police report and put a fraud alert on their credit reports AVERAGE TIME TO RECEIVE TAX REFUND AFTER INFORMED OF IDENTITY THEFT: 6.75 MONTHS Tax-Related Identity Theft Victims’ Actions Taken (Shown off % victim of tax-related identity theft)


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There is limited awareness of new protections for victims of tax-related identity theft, even among those who have been personally affected Awareness of IRS-Issued PIN Q17: Prior to this survey, were you aware of the IRS-issued PIN? Q18. The IRS now allows victims of tax-related identity theft to obtain copies of the fraudulent tax returns that were filed by thieves using the victims’ stolen identification. Prior to this survey, were you aware that victims of tax-related identity theft could request copies of fraudulent tax returns from the IRS? ? 2014-16: +8 AWARE Awareness of Ability to Request Copies of Fraudulent Tax Returns 60% Tax-Related Identity Theft Victims 52% Tax-Related Identity Theft Victims


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Q20: What is the one thing that you will do to try to prevent identity theft during tax season this year? [Asked of those familiar with tax-related identity theft, n=757] Protections against Tax-Related Identity Theft (Shown off % familiar with tax-related identity theft) However, consumers do have an appetite for using an IRS-issued PIN to protect their identities during tax season


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