Books & Chapters Financial Behaviors Financial Inclusion

Refund to Savings: Creating Contingency Savings at Tax Time

The annual tax refund offers households a recurring opportunity to cultivate assets for a rainy day or long-term priorities. What tools and policies can effectively encourage low- and moderate-income filers to save the refund? This chapter discusses opportunities for building household savings at tax time and the barriers to saving. It describes an intervention fielded by the Refund to Savings initiative with filers who used TurboTax Freedom Edition to file taxes online. Designed to encourage saving in low- and moderate-income households, the randomized trial is the largest savings experiment ever conducted in the United States. The chapter also evaluates the intervention and discusses directions for the initiative’s subsequent research.

Project: Refund to Savings (R2S)


Grinstein-Weiss, M., Comer, K., Russell, B. D., Key, C., Perantie, D., & Ariely, D. (2015). Refund to Savings: Creating contingency savings at tax time. In J. M. Collins (Ed.), A fragile balance: Emergency savings and liquid resources for low-income consumers (pp. 87–106). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.