updated 4/12/2005 8:03:42 AM ET 2005-04-12T12:03:42

Most Americans think federal income taxes are too complicated, but they're not eager to simplify tax preparation by getting rid of some deductions and tax credits, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.

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Forty-five percent of those polled support eliminating them, while 51 percent oppose that approach.

Millions of Americans are scrambling to meet the April 15 tax deadline. Many acknowledge they dread preparing the tax forms.

"Anybody who says they don't mind their taxes is lying," said businessman William Long of Ferris, Texas. "I definitely put them off until the last minute, even when money is coming back. I just don't want to deal with them."

Seven in 10 said their federal taxes are too complicated, according to a poll conducted for The Associated Press by Ipsos-Public Affairs. The survey found 49 percent would prefer a trip to the dentist while 48 percent would rather prepare their taxes.

Nearly a third of the 133 million income tax returns expected this year will arrive at the Internal Revenue Service during the last two to three weeks before the April 15 deadline, IRS spokesman Eric Smith said. He anticipated that almost 9 million will file extensions so they can file late returns and 2 million to 3 million are expected to miss the due date.

"If there's a deadline, some people will do almost anything to avoid it," Smith said.

About a fourth of those responsible for their family's tax preparations said they had yet to start their returns or only began preparing them the week before they were asked, according to the poll taken last week.

Simplifying the tax system is the goal of a federal panel created by President Bush that will collect information over the next few months and is expected to offer recommendations by midsummer.

Some proposals that might be considered include:

  • Reducing income tax rates while imposing a national sales tax.
  • Instituting a flat tax that would have everyone pay the same rate regardless of what they earn.

Most people don't like the flat tax idea, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying people with higher incomes should pay a higher tax rate. Only 40 percent thought tax rates should be the same for everyone.

People who make $75,000 or more a year were most likely to support that plan, but they were about evenly split. Other income groups opposed it.

By a 3-to-1 margin, Democrats favored the wealthier paying a higher rate, while Republicans were more likely to favor taxing everyone at the same rate.

"There are the fortunate few who are making their living on other people's hard work, they can afford to give more back to the government," said Phil Rosenfeld, a computer consultant from Miami who leans Democratic.

Kim Howard-Johnson, a San Diego homemaker who leans Republican, said she would like to see the tax rates the same for all income levels.

"I think it should be changed," she said. "That's the fairest thing to do. It would provide an incentive for people to make more money."

Amy Cavendar of Baton Rouge, La., said she doesn't even attempt to do her own taxes.

"I have income coming in from two states, so I have to get them done so I don't slip up on any of the laws," she said "I know my weaknesses enough to find somebody to do them. I've already filed and gotten my refund."

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults was taken from April 4-6 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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