Financial Behaviors Financial Inclusion Report

Refund to Savings 2013: Comprehensive Report on a Large-Scale Tax-Time Saving Program

Improving the financial security of low- and middle-income households through the savings of federal tax refunds is the central mission for the Refund to Savings (R2S) initiative. It is important to understand the context in which those households are trying to save and the methods of coping with contingencies when savings are not available. Such knowledge is key in designing effective strategies to encourage saving. Details on the balance sheets, tax credits taken, and predictors of saving behavior can inform researchers and policymakers interested in improving the financial well-being of LMI households. The data collected via for this report enable us to assess whether the R2S interventions’ effects on savings outcomes persist 6 months after filing. We tested two main behavioral mechanisms in varying combinations throughout the 2013 tax-filing season: (a) motivational prompts and (b) suggested savings amounts (anchors).

Citation

Grinstein-Weiss, M., Perantie, D. C., Russell, B. D., Comer, K., Taylor, S. H., Luo, L., Key, C., & Ariely, D. (2015). Refund to Savings 2013: Comprehensive report on a large-scale tax-time saving program (CSD Research Report No. 15-06). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.