VIRTUAL TAXES

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Mailing your tax return is so '90s. This month, Internet-savvy citizens will scurry to file their taxes online. But many of them have already been at it for a while. The audience for major tax-related Web sites nearly triples during the months of January, February, March and April, according to data compiled by Milpitas, Calif.-based Nielsen//NetRatings. During the 2002 tax season, traffic peaked in February, with more than 17.7 million unique visitors to tax sites, compared with just 6.3 million visitors in December 2001 and 5.5 million in May 2002. Between the time Americans receive their W-2s in January and the filing deadline on April 15, an average of 13 percent of the online population will log on each month to one of six leading tax sites. The most-often visited sites a year ago this month were www.irs.gov and www.quicken.com.

E-FILERS

Everyone pays taxes, but visitors to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service homepage have a little more money for the taking. In 2002, online Americans who earned between $100,000 and $149,999 were 21 percent more likely than the average online adult to get their tax info from www.irs.gov.

SHARE OF ONLINE VISITORS TO

WWW.IRS.GOV

DURING APRIL 2002, BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME:

INCOME INDEX*
Less than $25,000 83
$25,000-$49,999 95
$50,000-$74,999 90
$75,000-$99,999 113
$100,000-$149,999 121
$150,000+ 100
No response
*The national average is 100. Thus, Americans who earn less than $25,000 annually are 17 percent less likely than the average online adult to visit www.irs.gov.
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings
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