Survey Shows: Top 8 Ways That Americans Want to Use Tax Refunds in 2024

Do you have big dreams for your tax refund? According to IRS data, as of March 29, 2024, the average tax refund for 2024 was $3,050. There are many financial goals that you could devote that money to — like emergency savings, paying off debt, or opening a CD. But many Americans don’t think of their tax refund as a “nice-to-have” — it’s “must-have” money.

According to a new survey from Trustpilot, conducted by Attest, lots of Americans are counting on getting a big tax refund so they can put that money toward a wide range of everyday expenses and essential needs. Tax refunds are a financial lifeline for many U.S. households. If you’re worried about not getting a big tax refund in 2024, you’re not alone.

Let’s see what Americans told Trustpilot about their hopes and dreams for how to use their 2024 tax refunds.

Read more: we researched free tax software and put together a list of the best options here

Most Americans’ finances are impacted by tax refunds

The Trustpilot survey (conducted March 28-29, 2024) found that tax refunds are a big reason for excitement and concern for Americans. Only 13% of Americans said that “nothing” would be impacted by the outcome of their tax filing or the size of their tax refund in 2024.

Most other people are already planning ahead for how to spend, save, and invest their tax refunds — and if they don’t get that money as expected, it’s going to hurt. Among Americans who haven’t filed taxes yet, a total of 19% said they were worried about owing money to the IRS, and 7% said that an extra tax bill could cause them to miss out on paying for household items.

Top personal finance impacts (good and bad) of tax refunds

The Trustpilot survey also asked Americans to share how their financial decisions would be impacted by their tax returns. Some people might be more likely to spend money on certain things, or less likely to afford certain bills, based on the size of their tax refund.

Here are the top eight personal finance impacts of tax refund sizes — the financial decisions that Americans are considering, based on how much money they get back at tax time:

  1. Groceries and household items (35%)
  2. Travel/vacations (31%)
  3. Dining out (31%)
  4. Delaying other bill payments (credit cards, loans, etc.) (26%)
  5. Gas and transportation (25%)
  6. Streaming services & subscriptions (18%)
  7. Putting off medical/healthcare appointments (15%)
  8. Daycare/child care (7%)

It’s unfortunate to see that so many Americans are making decisions about whether to buy groceries or household items based on their tax refund amount. While some Americans hope to use their tax refund for fun expenditures like vacations or dining out, others are considering delaying healthcare for lack of a refund. Others are counting on their tax refunds to pay for gas or child care.

If you end up owing money to the IRS, keep in mind that you do not have to go without groceries. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you can ask the IRS to accept an “offer in compromise” — a special deal that lets you settle your tax debt by paying less than you owe. You have to apply for an offer in compromise, and you can qualify based on the amount of tax debt you have and other financial details.

Bottom line

Getting a big tax refund can feel like a windfall of “free money,” but many Americans rely on this one-time cash infusion to help pay for everyday expenses. If you have big plans for your tax refund and you don’t need that money for household items and groceries, you might want to put some of your tax refund cash into a savings account. And if you are struggling to pay your taxes, don’t go without essentials. Keep in mind that the IRS offers payment plans and will accept an “offer in compromise” if you qualify.

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