Microsoft Money Insider Poll Reveals Majority of Americans Lack Awareness, Understanding of Federal Tax Law Changes
REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 2, 1998 — According to a nationwide Market Facts TELENATION survey*, fewer than one in six Americans claim even a basic understanding of the changes to the federal tax laws made by last summer’s Taxpayer Relief Act.
The survey of 1,000 Americans, sponsored by the Microsoft® Money Insider
online interactive financial guide ( http://moneyinsider.MSN.com/ ), also showed that 58 percent of Americans polled plan to hire a professional to prepare their taxes this year.
“Given that most Americans do not understand the tax changes, it’s no surprise that most people are hiring professionals to prepare their taxes,” said Jeff Schnepper, a Money Insider columnist and author of “How to Pay Zero Taxes.” “Next year, when dramatic changes to IRAs and education and family credits kick in, we’ll likely see an increase in people seeking assistance from tax pros and other information sources, such as Money Insider.”
While most Americans plan to hire tax professionals, 24 percent plan to prepare their taxes themselves, 10 percent plan to use tax preparation software or a Web site, and 8 percent plan to use another method.
Survey Kicks Off Money Insider’s Special Tax Series
The poll by Money Insider is part of its special tax series that will provide weekly articles and tools to help consumers understand how the new tax law changes will affect their 1997 filings and how they can prepare for 1998 filings. The series starts today and will continue through April 15.
This week, visitors will find the articles “Changing Tax Laws Create New Opportunities,” “A Kinder, Gentler IRS May Be in the Works,” “Online Taxware is Cheap, Easy and Worth a Browse” and “Poll Shows Flat Tax Falls Flat” as well as a quiz that helps people determine whether they should hire someone to prepare their taxes and a Tax Estimator calculator that helps approximate their tax refund or payment.
In coming weeks, Money Insider will feature the articles “Top 10 Deductions That Taxpayers Miss,” “Tax Strategies for Capital Gains and Investments” and “What Tax Credits Can I Take?” Users will also be able to use a calculator to compare the outcome of investing in a Roth IRA vs. a traditional IRA.
Money Insider and Microsoft Money 98 Financial Suite Make Tax Preparation Easy
Money Insider is an online offering associated with the Microsoft Money 98 Financial Suite personal finance product. The Money 98 Financial Suite CD-ROM contains more than 100 financial assistance articles – including 18 tax management articles written by Money Insider expert columnists. Financial Suite users can stay up-to-date on the latest personal finance information because they receive links to new information on Money Insider each time they go online.
Money 98 Financial Suite provides other helpful tax features. For example, throughout the year, users are able to mark expenses that are tax deductible and then export their tax-related data into most popular tax preparation software programs. The product’s Monthly Report assesses the user’s tax situation – before it’s too late to make changes. And Advisor FYI
personal finance guidance alerts users to customized tax information, such as when they are approaching the next tax bracket and how they can amend the situation.
The “Inside Track” on Personal Finances With Money Insider
Money Insider was developed to give consumers tools and information to make smart financial decisions more easily. The site’s content, which is updated weekly by a panel of expert journalists, authors and industry professionals, is presented in easy-to-understand terms and breaks down tough financial decisions into easy, step-by-step tasks. In addition to taxes, the site covers topics including saving, investing, credit, home ownership, tuition, travel, insurance, retirement and estate planning.
The site features over 20 calculators and quizzes; a database of financial planners sorted by geographic location; an “Answer Guide” to consumers’ most frequently asked personal finance questions; a listing of rates on loans, credit cards and savings instruments from more than 2,500 banks; an archive of more than 200 articles covering various personal finance topic areas; and online chats with financial planners and Money Insider columnists.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
* The poll of 1,000 nationally representative American adults was conducted via telephone Jan. 16-18, 1998, and has a 3.1 percent margin of error.
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