They finish their taxes early and save their refunds out of fear of messing up.

The generation that gets twitchy when a smartphone isn’t touching their palms or thighs still likes to file taxes the old-fashioned way: on paper.

So says a new study from marketing and consulting firm Voccii, which shows millennials approach their taxes more traditionally than any other age group.

It’s a weird throwback: Growing up in the digital age, there has been little need to learn how to balance a checkbook — most perform basic banking through digital platforms and may almost never see the inside of a branch. But when it comes to their taxes, some choose to file the way their grandparents did.

Not to overstate it. Voccii says one in 10 millennials use paper forms, while NerdWallet says one out of six mail in their returns. But less than one in 10 taxpayers over 35 do, according to both NerdWallet and the IRS.

But why?

Most Americans hate filing their taxes. Still, nearly three out of four Americans are confident they can accurately file using a computer or online tax software. But millennials, who are newer to filing taxes, are more likely to look at the old-fashioned tax forms than anybody else, even though they’re most used to computer software holding their hands. And it’s because they’re scared they don’t understand what’s going on.

Millennials fear making mistakes when they file. Eight out of 10 worry they will make a mistake, pay too much, or won’t receive the full refund they deserve. About a third ask friends or family members questions about taxes, rather than a tax professional or online source.

“Who knew so many millennials would be so old-fashioned?” says Liz Weston, NerdWallet columnist and personal finance expert. “But in some ways, it makes sense: Millennials tend to have less experience with a deeply confusing tax code, less cash to seek professional help and less need for the complicated returns that having children or a mortgage can bring.”

Traditional isn’t always bad

Aside from being “old-fashioned” about paying their taxes, millennials are more likely to file on time than other age groups. All the criticism of being unmotivated in the workplace doesn’t apply when they want their refund check at the end of the tax year.

They’re also the generation that not only files taxes on time, but would rather file early even if they know they owe. Over half of millennials pay their taxes more than a month before Tax Day, almost twice as likely as those who are 35 and older.

That fits with the reality of millennials, if not the stereotype. Not all would agree, but research shows that Generation Y is pretty responsible when it comes to money. They are realistic and conservative with their finances because they grew up in a recession. More than half say they are good savers and will save their tax refunds this year.

However, millennials are still twice as likely as other generations to spend their refunds on themselves and family members. So it’s not like they are completely breaking the mold, not yet.

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Budgeting & Saving

income, IRS, tax refund, tax returns

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Article last modified on December 28, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Millennials Act Strange Around Tax Season - AMP.