Consumers don’t intend to spend their tax refunds on merchandise. Instead, most will choose to bank their refunds and look to reduce debt, according to the annual survey of consumer tax behavior by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation.
NRF President Matthew Shay says, “With the passage of tax reform and the expectation of more disposable income, we expect to see consumers prioritizing how and when they spend their hard earned dollars, especially during the back-to-school and holiday seasons.”
Of the 65% of taxpayers expecting a refund, 49% say they will put it into savings. That’s up from 48% last year and is the highest level in the 12-year history of the survey, NRF notes.
In addition, 35% said they will pay down debt, which is in line with last year and the lowest level since 2016 — all far below the peak of 48% seen during the recession in 2009.
Only 22% said they plan to spend their refunds on everyday expenses, which is the second-lowest level in the history of the survey, following last year’s low of 21%.
Beyond that, 12% said they will spend the money on a vacation; 10% will “splurge” on dining out, trips to spas or apparel; 9% will invest in home improvements; and 8% will make major purchases ranging from a television or furniture to a car.
“Younger consumers are being more mindful about their hard-earned money, especially those 18-24 who have already filed their taxes this year, higher than any other age group,” says Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist.
“Although this group is focused on allocating a portion of their refunds to savings, they are also more likely to use them for everyday expenses compared with any other age group.”