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Tax refund


Georgia consumers anticipate about the same tax refund amount in 2015 compared to last year, but most plan to use the money to pay off debt.

According to the Year-End 2014 Consumer Survey conducted by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), 39.1 percent of respondents said they expect to receive the same amount of tax refund money as last year, while 23.7 percent said their refund will be smaller and 28.2 percent do not expect a refund at all. The smallest percentage of respondents, 7.9 percent, said they expect a larger refund in 2015.

The majority of respondents, 36.9 percent, said they plan to spend their refund paying off debts. The next popular option, with 32.2 percent, was savings, while 16.8 percent said they have other plans for the money.

The National Retail Federation’s annual survey found that 46 percent of American consumers expecting a refund last year planned to put it into savings, up slightly from 44 percent in 2013 and the highest level in the survey’s eight-year history.

The NRF survey also indicated that 38 percent of survey respondents last year planned to use the money to pay down existing debt, a quarter for everyday expenses and only 11 percent to splurge on a major purchase.

According to The Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) 2010-2013 - the most recent survey results - the fraction of families with credit card debt in the U.S. has decreased since 2010 and the fraction of families that pay off credit cards every month has increased.

Insider's Perspective:
CGR Credit Union President and CEO Jerry Jordan said financial institutions often see a boost in deposits this time of year.

"We experience a significant spike in member deposits starting in late January, peaking in February and then see a significant run-off by the end of March," Jordan said. "We see this primarily in checking, some savings and we know that it's federal and state refund check driven. Many of our members have direct deposit tax refunds in excess of $1,000 and we see most of that money leave the account within days, if not hours, of the deposit."

Jordan suggests rather than spending tax refund money immediately, putting the money into savings, paying down debt, using it as a cushion for when financially strained or maybe investing in reliable transportation.

“Member needs drive our suggestions as to the best use of that windfall tax refund money," Jordan said. "Our members trust us and we talk face-to-face or on the phone to most of them. We encourage members at tax time – or any time – to come see us for financial advice."

Ideas For Spending Tax Refund Money Wisely:

  • Save It. Rather than spending tax refund money right away, put the money into a savings account and build on it each month.
  • Invest It. Use tax refund money as a down payment on a reliable vehicle, as a larger down payment will bring down monthly payments.
  • Make a Cushion. Keep tax refund money in your checking account as a cushion for when finances get tight
  • Pay Down Debt. Spend the windfall money to pay down debt and get your credit in good standing.

To learn more about credit unions or to find a credit union to join, consumers can visit:

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Additional Information
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Consumers Will Save, Not Spend, Tax Refunds: Results of a National Retail Federation survey on consumers' plans for their tax refunds.
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Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2010 to 2013: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances: The Federal Reserve Board's 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances finds significant differences in the evolution of income and net worth since the last time the survey was conducted.

State Contacts

Angi Harben
Director of Communications, GCUA

Local Contacts

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates