Are Taxes Too Taxing?

Hiding from the IRS? The most common excuse for avoiding the taxman is: "I couldn't be bothered." According to a study in State Tax Notes, one out of three American taxpayers who intentionally fail to file their taxes are due a refund or owe no money at all.

Deborah Thomas, at the University of Arkansas looked at a past Arkansas amnesty program, where noncompliant taxpayers could file their overdue 1040s penalty-free. Some 44 percent of the 1,025 filers explained why they missed the April 15 deadline.

Among these late-comers, 6 percent did not have the money to pay their taxes; another 20 percent chose not to pay as a form of protest against the government; and 17 percent were afraid they would be caught for not paying in previous years. But the largest number of these late filers—33 percent—didn't owe a penny.

Why bother filling out the forms? They may feel that the effort to prepare taxes is just too great. Study author Deborah Thomas also suggests that the best way to encourage more people to turn in their taxes is to make the whole process less confusing.

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