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Nearly 30 Percent of U.S. Adults Still Likely to Mail in Checks to Pay Taxes

When it comes to receiving tax refunds, more Millennials opted for a check in the mail compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers

Monday, April 01, 2019

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NAPLES, FLA—April 1, 2019—Nearly 30 percent (29%) of U.S. adults are still likely to mail in checks to pay taxes owed to the government, according to an online survey of 1,270 adults by YouGov and ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions. Of those who chose to receive tax refunds through a check in the mail (19%), more Millennials (22%) opted for this approach over their Generation X (20%) and Baby Boomer (17%) cohorts.

“Despite the continued evolution of payment technology, nearly a third of Americans opted to write out a check and physically mail it, which takes more effort than an electronic funds withdrawal, debit or credit card payments,” said Andrew Sajeski, leader, biller solutions, ACI Worldwide. “Paying by cash or check tends to take longer, and leaves the taxpayer at risk of being late, leading to additional interest and penalty charges. Moreover, if the check gets lost in the mail or stolen, the consumer’s personal information can be violated. It’s much easier and safer to set up an electronic funds withdrawal.”

Other key findings and trends include:

Paying Taxes/Receiving Refunds

  • When it comes to paying taxes, 23 percent of U.S. adults chose electronic funds withdrawal, with 12 percent paying by debit card, and 11 percent opting for credit card payment
    • Of those who mailed in a check (29%) to pay taxes, Millennials (12%) were much less likely to do so than Generation X (28%) and Baby Boomers (43%)
  • For tax refunds, a whopping 71 percent of taxpayers would choose Direct Deposit followed by 19 percent who opted to receive a check in the mail

Tax Scams

  • While most taxpayers who use a tax preparer (54%) check that they include their preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and sign their return, nearly half (46%) don’t do so, putting them at risk of getting scammed
    • More Millennials (56%) than Generation X (48%) and Baby Boomers (32%) fail to check their tax preparer’s credentials
  • The survey showed 38 percent of U.S. adults have experienced tax scams. Of the various scams, phone scams (27%) and email scams (17%) were the most common

Filing Taxes

  • According to the survey, 40 percent of Americans are most likely to file their taxes electronically through software or websites (e.g. TurboTax, TaxSlayer), followed by those who file through a professional (30%) and by mail/paper (10%)
    • Generation X (51%) were more likely to file electronically through websites/software than Millennials (39%) and Baby Boomers (36%)

“More Millennials chose to receive tax refunds by check compared to the older generations, which is contrary to the general perception that this generation thrives on instant gratification,” Sajeski continued.

ACI recommends the following top tips for taxpayers this season

  • Be sure to check your tax preparer’s credentials. A legal tax preparer should have a PTIN and must sign your return.
  • Electronic payments are safer. Consumers who pay their taxes by check are required to write their social security number on the back of the check, which could put them at risk since checks can easily be stolen.
  • Don’t delay if paying by cash. For those who wish to pay by cash, don’t delay as it generally takes 5-7 business days to process cash payments. Visit sites like and follow the instructions to make a cash payment with PayNearMe.
  • Make the switch to digital. Try paying with a credit or debit card this year. It’s faster, and you may be able to deduct any processing fee on next year’s return, per the IRS (claimed on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions).



All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1270 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 12-13, 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). Generations were defined as follows: Millennial (born 1982-1999, 343 total), Gen X (born 1965-1981, 350 total), and Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964, 439 total).

About ACI Worldwide

ACI Worldwide powers digital payments for more than 6,000 organizations around the world. More than 1,000 of the largest financial institutions and intermediaries, as well as thousands of global merchants, rely on ACI to execute $14 trillion each day in payments and securities. In addition, myriad organizations utilize our bill presentment and payment services. Through our comprehensive suite of software solutions delivered on customers’ premises, through the public cloud or through ACI’s private cloud, we provide real-time payment capabilities and enable the industry’s most complete omni-channel payments experience. To learn more about ACI, please visit You can also find us on Twitter @ACI_Worldwide.

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