Where's Your Tax Return Going?

Of the two-thirds of Americans expecting tax refunds this year a majority are looking use that money in a financially savvy way; perhaps none more so than young adults.

Of the two-thirds of Americans expecting tax refunds this year a majority are looking use that money in a financially savvy way, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they plan to save their money for a rainy day (up from 44% last year). Of those looking to use their refund, 38% will pay down debt and a quarter will use the money for everyday expenses.

Just 11% said they’ll use the refund to treat themselves and invest in a major purchase and 13% will splurge on a vacation.

“Financial security is top-of-mind for all Americans, and refunds can play a huge role in helping achieve that,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay, said in a statement. “Whether consumers use a refund to pay down debt, bulk up their savings, or buy that big-ticket item they’ve been saving for, a check from Uncle Sam, large or small, goes a long way these days.”

The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, also found that young adults are being very smart with their refunds. More than half (57%) of those between the ages of 18 and 24 plan to use their refund to contribute to their savings account—more than any other age group.

“Young adults today are extremely smart about their money, and will look for ways to reap the benefits of their hard work that comes from their refunds,” Prosper’s Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow, said in a statement. “It’s also likely that 18- to 24-year-olds have learned from their parents the valuable lesson of saving for a rainy day, thanks in large part to the Great Recession and current economic conditions.”

A third said they will use their refunds for everyday expenses and 30% said they will use the money to pay down debt.

However, speculating on what to do with a refund does no one any good until the taxes are actually filed. According to the survey, just 23% have already filed their taxes. More than a third (37%) plan to file by the end of February, 26% in March and 15% of respondents admitted they will wait until the last minute to file in April.

Anyone planning to put their refund money to good use should file as soon as possible, though. More than 90% of refunds take up to 21 days.