In 2013, the Pew Research Center released data demonstrating that 56% of Americans have a negative reaction to doing their income taxes, with 33% stating they did their own taxes and 56% saying that someone else prepares their taxes on their behalf. 

Evidently, a decade ago, it was more popular for taxpayers to have someone else do their taxes than to do them themselves; today, more people are filing their taxes themselves or using tax filing software to streamline the process, but using a personal accountant is still common. 

Join the Discussion: How do you feel about doing your taxes yourself?

How are people filing this year — and do income and age influence how they plan to file, such as which tax software they use? CivicScience data offers an updated look into the 2024 tax season: 

More Taxpayers Opt for Free Tax Filing Software

Recent CivicScience findings show 23% of individuals have used or will use free tax software or online services to file their taxes in 2024, while 16% have used or will use a purchased tax software. More people are using free software this year instead of paid software, up by three percentage points since 2022. This could be because of the effect of inflation.

The percentage of filers using a personal tax accountant has also fallen, but is still a favored choice, with 30% stating they had used a personal accountant or planned to do so this year. Interestingly, 9% said that they did their taxes or would do them by hand and mail them to the IRS, up a point from two years ago.

When diving into which tax programs are the most popular in 2024, CivicScience learned that most people have used or plan to use Intuit TurboTax (35%), which remains the most used software brand year-over-year. That’s followed by H&R Block (19%), with Cash App Taxes (9%) and TaxAct (8%) still on the radar but far less popular. However, a large proportion (22%) plan on using a different type of tax software to file this year. 

Differences exist among people who are paying versus using free software. The majority of people who are paying for software are using TurboTax, but it’s still the most popular among people using the brand’s free versions. Notably, 15% of free software users say they will use Cash App Taxes, which offers free tax filing.

How Many People Are Using IRS Free File in 2024?

In March 2024, the IRS launched a new free tax filing program, Direct File, in 12 pilot states for simple tax situations. This free tax filing solution is believed to cover about one-third of tax situations, servicing an estimated 19 million people in 2024. 

While it’s still in the experimental phase, a look at the traditional free filing program, IRS Free File, shows a total of 27% have experience using the program, with 12% using the IRS Free File software this tax season and 15% stating they would not be using it again this year. 

It’s estimated that about 70% of taxpayers are eligible to use IRS Free File, yet 36% have never heard of the IRS Free File software.

Additional Tax Season Insights from the CivicScience InsightStore™:

  • Lower-income households ($50K or less per year) are less likely than higher earners to use either purchased or free tax software than higher-income households.
  • A staggering 45% of those aged 55 and older used or plan to use a personal accountant to file their taxes, while only 14% of those aged 18-24 and 27% of those 35-54 plan to do the same. 
  • Occupation-wise, those in professional/managerial and computer/tech/medical roles are far more likely to use tax software (free or purchased), while those in operations/sales are the most likely to use a personal accountant.
  • Intuit TurboTax is the most used or planned-to-use software across low, middle, and high-income earners.
  • Intuit TurboTax is also the most popular among all age groups using tax software in 2024, although Gen Z is the most likely age group to use Cash App Taxes (16%). In addition, middle-income earners taking home $50-100K have the most experience using IRS Free File. 

Overall, the findings show that more Americans are utilizing free tax software this year. Although many people still prefer to use a personal accountant to file their taxes in 2024, especially higher earners, it’s less of a popular option than in years past. Among those using software, it’s clear that TurboTax is the most popular tax filing software among the young and old, and all levels of income earners who choose to use tax software. 

In addition, CivicScience found that the IRS Free File program is not commonly known, nor is it a popular platform for most Americans. These findings might change as tax platforms become more or less popular.

Take Our Poll: Have you ever had to pay taxes on inherited property / assets?

CivicScience regularly tracks thousands of brands through the InsightStore™, which gathers over 4 million U.S. survey responses daily. Get in touch to learn more.