Asset Building Financial Inclusion Report

Using Tax Refunds to Promote Asset Building in Low-Income Households: Program and Policy Options

The federal income tax system has become an important vehicle for social policy. Although tax expenditures are skewed toward middle- and high-income households, tax transfers to low income households increased substantially during the last decade. It is now common for low- and moderate-income working families to receive federal refunds of $2,000 or more. Research shows that many families view lump-sum tax refunds as “assets.” Thus, there are compelling reasons to leverage tax refunds for asset building. This paper offers specific recommendations for linking tax refunds with programs and policies that promote saving and asset accumulation in low income households.


Beverly, S. G., & Dailey, C. (2003). Using tax refunds to promote asset building in low-income households: Program and policy options (CSD Report No. 03-29). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.