In case you missed it, today is tax day.
This year we thought we’d look at several years of Bing data to see if we can learn anything about when people start preparing their taxes. In order to do this, we chose a set of keywords related to tax preparation tasks (e.g., form 1098, tax US, filing separately, tax service, etc.) and tracked the trends from our anonymous search logs to see when people search for these terms.
Some early birds start preparing their taxes in December. The initial tax -preparation spike happens the first Monday of February, right around when most people receive their W2s in the mail. Two days before the filing deadline there is another clear peak in traffic, representing the people who wait until the last two days to do their taxes.
The tax preparation curve is very similar between men and women. However there is a clear four-day gap, implying that women start preparing their taxes earlier than men.
We also computed the tax-related search rates by state. From this we can see that residents of South Dakota prepare their taxes earliest, starting a full 12 days before Washington D.C. (the ‘state’ that prepares the latest).
West Coast states generally start preparing taxes after the East Coast. (In the chart below green represents earlier than the norm, red represents later).
Yellow = Average, Dark Green = Average minus 6 Days, Dark Red average plus 6 Days
If you haven’t started yet, you’d better get searching – today is the last day!
– Juan Miguel Lavista Ferres, Principal Data Scientist, Microsoft