09:55 AM

TransUnion Study Finds Many Americans Plan to Use Tax Refund to Mend Finances

While the weeks leading up to the April 18 tax filing deadline can be unnerving for millions of Americans, a recent Zogby International survey commissioned by TransUnion found that those expecting to receive a tax refund plan to put their refund to good use in hopes of improving their financial and credit health. 

Thirty percent of Americans surveyed plan to pay down existing debt while 20 percent plan to save it and 3 percent plan to treat themselves to something and spend it on themselves. A third of those surveyed (34 percent) do not expect a tax refund in 2011. An additional 12 percent indicated "other" or "not sure."

"Whether consumers expect to receive a refund or anticipate having a tax bill to pay, it is important to correctly make a plan now and be prepared. The first step is to obtain and review their credit report," said Heather Battison, director of education for TransUnion's consumer products. "If they anticipate a refund, consumers should consider making a plan to use their refund to pay down debts, especially those with high balances or high interest rates. If they will receive a tax bill, they should plan ahead so that you can pay the bill on time, as well as meet their other monthly obligations."

To help consumers plan for tax season, TransUnion offers the following tips for how best to best prepare, use their tax refund or pay their bill. 

  • Organize. Before preparing your tax return or seeking assistance from a professional, organize all your necessary documents. Obtain your W-2s to report wages, your 1099s to report interest and dividends, your 1099Bs for reporting stock and bond sales, and your 1098s for deducting your interest and taxes. Other key documents include receipts and credit card slips for business expenses, major purchases, charitable donations and other notable transactions.

  • Start Early. As soon as you have all your necessary documents, prepare your tax return or make an appointment to see your accountant. The sooner you complete your return, the sooner you can receive your refund or the more time you will have to pay your tax bill by the deadline. 

  • Pay Down Debt. If you expect to receive a refund, review your credit report and look for debts you can pay down, which in turn could potentially boost your credit score. 

  • Save Now. If you expect to receive a tax bill, you can prepare and begin saving now to pay it off immediately so you don't find yourself in a situation in which it is challenging to pay your other bills. Since missed and late payments can affect your credit score, it is important to pay each bill on time, every time.

  • File On time. Make sure you file your tax return on time. If you owe money, interest and penalties may accrue for not filing. Remember, this year's deadline for filing state income tax returns is April 15, 2011 and the deadline for filing federal income tax returns is April 18, 2011.

  • Plan for 2011. Consider organizing for next year's tax season now. Make a folder and keep copies of important tax documents so that this time next year, you'll be that much more prepared to file your taxes.

Survey Methodology

Zogby International was commissioned by TransUnion to conduct an online survey of 2147 adults. The surveys were completed between December 20 and December 23, 2010.

A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the US, was invited to participate. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. 

About TransUnion

TransUnion Interactive, Inc. is a consumer subsidiary of TransUnion. As a global leader in credit and information management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering comprehensive data and advanced analytics and decisioning. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion employs associates in more than 25 countries on five continents. www.transunion.com Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TransUnion.