SURVEY SAYS: Tax Refunds

April 7, 2014 ( – Last week, I asked NewsDash readers if they expected to get a tax refund this year, and if so, what they plan to do with it.

The majority of responding readers (57.7%) indicated they file their tax returns on time, but not early or last minute. Nearly one-quarter (24.7%) file their return as soon as they get their W-2(s), while 12.4% wait until the last minute to file. Slightly more than 5% said they usually get an extension to file their tax returns.

More than seven in ten respondents (71.1%) expect to get a refund this year, and 22.7% do not. Six percent said they don’t know whether they will get a refund.

Nearly 24% of those who will get a refund reported they will save or invest it. Twenty percent indicated they will use their tax refund to pay on debt, and 15.3% said they will use it for a necessary expense, such as car or home repairs.

Nearly 4% will use their tax refund for a discretionary expense, and 1.2% will donate it to charity. More than 16% reported they will use their refunds for a combination of saving, spending or donating. In“other” responses, selected by 20%, responding readers reported they would use their refunds for college tuition or expenses, to offset next year’s taxes or use a refund from state or federal to offset a payment to the other, and “to help cover the premium/tax for my two under-employed college graduates who can’t afford health care.”

Many of those who offered comments counseled that getting a refund means you let the government use your money interest-free, but one reader noted “It’s easier to give the government a little extra money each pay period than it is to come up with extra cash by April 15th each year.” Editor’s Choice goes to the reader with some helpful advice about what to do with a refund: “We have a ritual of identifying the debt with the highest interest rate and paying the entire tax refund on that debt. It is liberating! By next year, all we will owe will be student loans. Onward in our quest to be debt-free!!”


Our taxes are simpler these days, since the house is paid off and the young adult children can no longer be claimed. Personal tax filing season seems to arrive right after the October 15 5500 filing deadline. That annual nightmare is still too fresh in my mind to not have some anxiety over filing the family taxes.


We always have to pay additional monies. I prefer keeping my money all year until I absolutely need to part with it!


My son will be a college freshman this year so we had to file early in order to be "considered" for financial aid. Refund? Don't get me started on the inequities of FAFSA!


I don't mind paying a little too much each year, and then receiving a refund every year. It's a "forced" savings account. And while we don't earn interest on it, it's less than a year, and when we receive our refund check we pick a charity to fund and then save or invest the rest.


If I owe money, they'll get it on April 15th. If I'm due a refund, I'll file as early as I can.


As much as I would love to say I invest it all...unfortunately life intrudes and demands I pay medical bills not covered by insurance. That being said, I also make sure I make a donation to the Diabetes Foundation each year. Someday soon, I hope no one will ever have to deal with that awful disease.


Normally I save any refund for property tax bill in December but this year must use some of it for unexpected medical expenses that more than maxed out my FSA, thanks to the government having reduced that resource.


Why do people get excited about receiving a refund? It just means you provided an interest free loan to the government. Better to aim to owe a small amount and consider it an interest free loan FROM the government.


Wasn't expecting a refund so it was found money. Sweet! Already in my bank account and a portion sent to a local education charity.


I use to build cushion toward unexpected or extraordinary expenses.


If I get a refund, it is small as I don't want the government to use my money. They can't handle their own!


Somehow I goofed in my calculations last year and rather than owing money, we are now getting a refund. I lost use of those funds over past 15 months.

Verbatim (cont.)

If I get a refund, I file as soon as I can. If I owe, it'll be last minute....


I aim to owe around $500. No sense letting the government have my money for free!


We try to manage our taxes so we don't have a refund or have to pay.


Got a refund last year, so reduced our withholding, so get to pay this year!! I've filed our return, but will wait until April 15 to send in the taxes.


Once we figured out a couple of years ago that there were hidden tax increases each year that left us perennially owing money at tax time, we started over withholding. It's easier to give the government a little extra money each pay period than it is to come up with extra cash by April 15th each year. Now we get a refund and actually manage to save a little bit.


I always get a refund - want to make sure I get back every penny from the mafia we call the federal government


The IRS is full of criminals and the government breaches their fiduciary duty to be good stewards of the money we give them. They misuse our money when they pay for things like the Michelle Obama's recent trip to China with her kids and mother.


The timing of filing our return depends on if we are getting a refund or not! Getting a refund, file early...not getting a refund, file late March/early April! Since we haven't gotten a refund in many years, it's tended to be a late March filing. 🙂


I know it doesn't make economic sense, but I choose to save money this way. I typically use it to fund a large home project.


TurboTax is not working well, bigtime.


We typically get it done by the end of February. The best outcome is to neither owe nor get a refund, but it seems many people think a big refund is a great thing. My accountant says otherwise...


We have a ritual of identifying the debt with the highest interest rate and paying the entire tax refund on that debt. It is liberating! By next year, all we will owe will be student loans. Onward in our quest to be debt-free!!

Verbatim (cont.)

Anyone who gets a large refund is nuts! It means you were loaning your money to the government interest free for the year.


I actually file by April 15 but first I file for an extension and pay in extra money. That way my refund is used to buy I bonds. It’s the only way to get paper I bonds.


My taxes are simple so I estimate them before the year and adjust my withholding exemptions to aim for getting a small return of $100 or less.


I usually designate tax refunds to either pay down large debt, like a mortgage, or to help pay for a vacation. Even though I know I'm going to get a refund I usually wait until the end of March to file. This just isn't something I look forward to doing every year.


I am sure my husband and I have paid more than our fair share over the years, and this year I just want to break even for a change.


I estimate my taxes throughout the year and attempt to break-even. I don't understand why some people are so excited about getting a tax refund. That just means you had too much withheld and the government held your money hostage all year long 🙂


Tax refund partially funds annual Roth IRA contribution


To the politico who paraphrases the well known "...render unto Ceasar..." I say "Yeah, well, Ceasar is dead and has been so for a long time."


People who intentionally have too much tax withheld from their paychecks are giving the country a free loan. Recalculate your withholding so that you get almost no refund & instead invest that money that used to be withheld each paycheck instead of getting only the principal back with no interest at the end of the year.


file on line w/ TurboTax



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.