Accc Survey Finds Nearly 70 Percent of Consumers Used Their Tax Refund to Get Ahead on Monthly Bills and Pay Down Debt

A survey of budget-conscious consumers reveals that an overwhelming majority applied their tax refunds to paying down debt and getting ahead on monthly expenses.

Boston, MA – June 12, 2014

Using tax refund to pay off debtsAmericans were budget and money conscious with their tax returns this year, according to a survey by national financial education nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling. The online survey revealed that 69 percent of American consumers used their tax refund to pay down debt and get ahead on monthly expenses such as rent, utilities and car payments, while only 16 percent splurged and bought themselves something.

“It’s encouraging that so many consumers are making smart decisions with their money by opting to pay down credit cards and catch up on bills rather than dig themselves deeper into debt,” stated Steven Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It’s very easy to look at a tax refund as free money, but the reality is, the refund check you receive from Uncle Sam is just a return of your own hard earned money.”

Surprisingly, ACCC’s web poll revealed that while 18 to 34 year olds were most likely to put their refund into savings with 37 percent reporting doing so, they were also most likely to spend their refund with 28 percent stating they splurged on something nice. In contrast, of those aged 55 or older only four percent admitted to buying themselves something.

Of the 179 consumers surveyed, 11 percent reported owing more taxes after filing and 14 percent did not receive a refund. Of those respondents who owed the government money, the majority, 19 percent, owed between $100 to $499. When it comes to paying the tax bill, a recent study found that 40 percent say they are not prepared to pay, six percent plan to borrow money, and 17 percent will set up an installment plan with the IRS.

Unexpectedly, when asked if the amount of taxes paid was fair, nearly half of respondents, 46 percent, thought they paid an appropriate amount.

“For those who are shocked to receive a tax bill, chances are they have not been saving throughout the year,” continued Trumble. “The worst thing a consumer can do is get themselves into debt with an overwhelming tax bill. In most circumstances, the IRS will work with you to set up a payment plan to tackle the debt head-on. Once the debt is paid off, start setting aside money from each paycheck to plan for next year’s bill.”

Of those respondents who did receive a refund this year, nearly 20 percent saw a return of $2,500 or more, with 35 to 44 year olds receiving the largest returns. According to the IRS, the average tax refund for 2014 is $2,831, up 1.5 percent from the same period last year.

When asked if they would rather pay more towards taxes in order to receive a larger refund or keep more of their paycheck and receive a smaller refund, 45 percent of respondents preferred the latter. Interestingly, nearly half, 45 percent of those aged 18 to 34 would rather fork over more of their paycheck in order to see a larger refund.

“Consumers are excited to receive that payout from the government every spring,” added Trumble. “The trouble is making sure you make the most of this money and use it wisely. The good news is that this budget-conscious behavior is starting to catch on as more and more consumers use this money to pay down debt and save.”

The Tax Refund poll is the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2014 that focus on a variety of financial education, budgeting, and planning topics.
American Consumer Credit Counseling’s certified and experienced counselors offer various financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • Or visit us online at

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. Each month, ACCC invites consumers to participate in a poll focused on personal finance issues. The results are conveyed in the form of infographics that act as tools to educate the community on everyday personal finance issues and problems. By learning more about financial management topics such as credit and debt management, consumers are empowered to make the best possible financial decisions to reach debt relief. As one of the nation’s leading providers of personal finance education and credit counseling services, ACCC’s certified credit advisors work with consumers to help determine the best possible debt solutions for them. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.  To participate in this month’s poll, visit and for more financial management resources visit