How Americans Plan to Spend Their Tax Refunds

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Nearly half of American taxpayers can expect a tax refund in any given year. How they intend to spend that windfall may surprise you.

Just 6% of U.S. adults who expect to receive a tax refund this year plan to splurge on a vacation or a shopping spree, according to data in a new report from Bankrate.com. Americans appear to be much more practical.

Just over a third plan to save or invest their refunds, 29% plan to spend it on necessities and 27% say they plan to spend their refunds to pay down existing debt.

Of the 47% of Americans expecting a refund, the millennial generation is expecting the biggest payoff. Nearly two-thirds of millennials expect a refund this year, compared 490% of GenXers and 34% of boomers.

About one in four U.S. adults had already filed their 2016 returns at the time the survey was conducted, and about two-thirds of early filers have already received their refunds or expect to get one.

Sarah Berger at Bankrate.com noted:

Millennials are actually the age group most likely to have already filed their 2016 returns, and the age group most likely to save or invest their refund. This shows a sense of responsibility and overall financial savviness among young adults. They’re setting up a solid foundation for their future financial selves. It can be tempting to splurge with that refund, but saving it is so much smarter; consider it an investment in yourself.

Bankrate.com also points out that if you are receiving a refund, you are, in effect, lending the federal (or state or both) government money at a 0% interest rate. The company suggests adjusting your withholding rate and putting the difference into savings or otherwise investing it.