Fewer plan on saving tax refunds

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As the economy improves, fewer people are interested in saving their tax returns for a rainy day.

According to the National Retail Federation, 13.2 percent plan to use their refunds for a major purchase – televisions or new furniture. That’s a slight increase from last year’s 12.5 percent.

But the majority of people are still saving – 42.1 percent plan to set aside their refunds this year.

“Despite the difficult unemployment situation across the country, Americans receiving a tax refund this year seem eager to plough this money back into the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With sales momentum continuing to build, NRF is becoming more bullish about the economic recovery.”

Other ways consumers will use their refunds include vacation, and everyday expenses. Unsurprisingly, the number of people who file their taxes online continues to increase. This year, 57.6 percent of U.S. taxpayers will file their taxes online, up from just 50.1 percent in 2007.

Additionally, 35.2 percent will prepare their taxes using computer software, 21.5 percent will use an accountant, 19.3 percent will use a tax preparation service, 10.9 percent will have a friend, spouse or other relative prepare their taxes for them and 13.2 percent will prepare their taxes by hand.

“Many Americans have spent the last few years paying down debt with their tax refunds, but for some, it’s the perfect time to buy something nice for a change,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Others are also looking to the future though, by putting their ‘free money’ in a savings account, with the recession serving as a perfect reminder of the need to be prepared.”

According to the survey, 63.9 percent of Americans will have filed their taxes by the end of February, meaning that many tax returns have already been received or are on the way. An additional 21.1 percent will file in March and 15.0 percent will wait until the last minute and file in April.