by Sarah Mahoney,
Income-Tax-Return-If retailers a
re expecting a little bounce from consumers’ tax refunds this year, they might be disappointed. A new survey from the National Retail Federation reports that more people plan to bank their refund, with 43.8% saying they plan to save at least some of it, up from 42.1% last year.
The survey also found people are in a hurry, with 64.4% saying they will have filed their taxes by the end of February, the highest since 2006.
The survey, conducted for NRF by BIGinsight, reports that 66.2% expect a check from the government, the same as last year. The Internal Revenue Service says the average 2010 refund was $2,902.
“After a rocky few years, consumers are now more vigilant about how they spend their money and the importance of preparing for future financial stability,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay says in its release.
Roughly 40% say they also plan to use some of the money to pay down debt, and 28.7% say some will go toward everyday expenses. Fewer are splurging, with just 12.3% reporting a plan to spend the money on a major purchase, such as a car or TV, and 11.3% plan to use it for a vacation. The survey is based on responses from 8,700 adults.
One snag: People are having to wait a little longer, with this year’s refunds reportedly taking between 10 and 21 days from e-filing, compared to one to two weeks in past years, a hiccup the IRS has attributed to new fraud safeguards.
Electronic filing continues to gain in popularity, with 60.7% planning to file this way, up from 57.6% last year, 36% using computer software, 21% employing an accountant, 18.7% relying on a tax prep service, and 10.6% asking a friend. Some 13.8% say they will do their own taxes by hand.
For retailers like Walmart and Sears, taxes are big business. Sears, for example, has launched a unique web page with H&R Block, which offers 15% off the cost of H&R Block’s Basic, Deluxe, and Premium H&R Block online editions. Both chains are offering free tax file for those using form 1040EZ, and Walmart is promoting its $3 check-cashing service for refund checks.