NRF: Nearly 50% of Americans Plan to Save Tax Refunds

Washington, D.C.–Nearly half of U.S. consumers recently surveyed said they plan to put some or all of the money they receive back from the IRS this spring into their savings account.

The National Retail Federation conducted its annual tax return poll Feb. 1 to 8, surveying 7,609 U.S. consumers about what they planned to do with their refund checks this year.

The survey showed that 66 percent, or some 5,021 consumers, said they expect to receive a tax refund this year.

Of those, a little more than half (52 percent) plan to spend their refund this year, but more of that spending will go toward essentials and not special purchases, like jewelry.

A total of 21 percent of consumers said they will spend their refunds on everyday expenses while 17 percent said they would use them for major purchases like a television, furniture or car (9 percent) or splurge on special treats like eating out, spa visits or clothing (8 percent).

The numbers are down slightly from 22 percent, 9 percent and 8 percent last year, which were record lows for the survey, the NRF said.

Other spending plans include vacations (11 percent) and home improvements (9 percent).

There also was a significant number of survey takers who said they don’t plan to spend their refunds at all.

Forty-eight percent of consumers plan to put the money into savings, the second-highest percentage since the NRF started doing this survey in 2008.

In addition, 36 percent said they will use the money to pay down debt, up from 35 percent last year but nowhere near the peak of 48 percent recorded in 2009.

(According to the NRF, survey respondents were able to select more than one option. They could, for example, say they were going to pay down debt and take a vacation, or put some of their refund into savings but also use it for everyday expenses.)

Remarking on the survey results, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said consumers plan to funnel their returns into savings as financial security continues to be “top of mind” for all Americans.

“Consumers are leveraging their tax returns to build up their savings, but that’s good news in the long run because money saved today is money that can be spent down the road, particularly during … the holiday season,” he said.

The Washington-based NRF is a general retail trade organization with membership including department stores and specialty, discount, catalog, Internet and independent retailers.

The full survey results can be seen on the organization’s website.

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