Consumers Build Confidence by Saving Tax Refunds

WASHINGTON – Planning for the future is top of mind for Americans this year, with more consumers than ever putting their tax refunds into savings. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Tax Returns Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 49.2 percent of those expecting a refund plan to save the money rather than spend it right away, the highest percentage in the survey’s history. Nearly two-thirds (65.5 percent) of those surveyed expect a refund.

“Americans this year see refund season as a time to improve their financial health … Money saved is spending potential down the road.”

Matthew Shay
NRF President and CEO

“Consumers are boosting their confidence and building their spending power as they set aside their checks from Uncle Sam,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Americans this year see refund season as a time to improve their financial health by using their refunds to get ahead on savings goals, pay down debt and plan for purchases in the future. Money saved is spending potential down the road.”

Consumers know just what they want to do with their refunds this year: In addition to savings, 34.9 percent plan to pay down debt and 22.4 percent will use the refunds for everyday expenses. While 11.4 percent plan to book a vacation, 9.2 percent plan to spend on major purchases like a television or car. Splurges are still in the cards for some, with 8.3 percent planning to indulge on a purchase like a salon or spa service or an elaborate night out.

According to the survey, 57.3 percent of 18-to-24 year-olds plan to save their refunds, and 27.4 percent will use it for groceries, gas and other everyday purchases. But plenty of young consumers will have some fun too: 12.6 percent will spend it on vacations and 13.4 percent will splurge. More than half (52.3 percent) of those ages 25-34 plan to tuck their refunds into savings and 45 percent will use it to pay down debt.

“Millennials are being wise and putting saving ahead of splurging as they look for ways to get ahead,” Prosper Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow said. “Young consumers see their refund as an opportunity to build their savings without making a dent in their monthly budget.”

According to the survey, 66.9 percent of Americans plan to file their taxes online, the most in survey history. Additionally, 38.2 percent will use computer software to prepare their taxes on their own, while 14.2 percent will file manually. Others plan to have a spouse, friend or relative help (16.1 percent) and 21.4 percent will hire an accountant.

Of those surveyed, 21 percent have already filed their taxes, 38 percent plan to do so in February, 24.5 percent will file in March and 15.4 percent will take their time and file at the last minute in April.

About the Survey
The survey is designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to tax returns. The poll of 7,108 consumers was conducted February 2-9 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.2 percentage points.

Prosper Insights and Analytics delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues.

About NRF
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.