IRS Tax Letter with Cash

(Photo by Susan B Sheldon on Shutterstock)

NEW YORK — As April looms on the calendar, an alarming 25 percent of Americans find themselves navigating the murky waters of tax season, unsure if a refund awaits them or not. A survey of 2,000 adults, looking at how many are thinking ahead when it comes to their taxes, finds the percentage of those who aren’t sure if they’ll get a tax refund this year has risen by five percent from 2023.

On the other hand, 43 percent anticipate getting a tax refund in 2024, slightly up from 40 percent last year. The average respondent who thinks they will be getting a tax refund estimates that they’ll get back $2,023.50 this year, down from an average of $2,338.40 last year.

Conducted by OnePoll for Cricket Wireless, the annual tax time survey reveals that two in three Americans say that if they received a tax refund in 2024, they would use it in a more “mature” way than years past (67%).

Infographic on survey detailing the amount some Americans expect to receive on their 2024 tax return.

Of those who anticipate a tax refund, three in five are relying on that extra income and 36 percent plan on saving it, compared to just 26 percent last year. Half of those who have gone through a major life event like putting contributions into a retirement plan (17%) or getting a new job (11%) also say that they would use their tax refund to help financially support new changes. However, a quarter of Americans admit to feeling stressed leading up to the tax deadline (28%).

What’s causing that stress? For many, it’s uncertainty over what to expect.

For instance, of those who experienced life changes over the past year, such as getting married or having a kid, only 38 percent knew that these events will affect their tax return. Knowledge also plays a role in respondents’ uncertainty, as one in five couldn’t define common tax terms like “adjusted gross income,” “dependent” or “filing status.”

The economy is also a culprit for those who are less certain about their finances this year. Only a third of Americans think the 2024 economy will be better than the previous year (34%), with 45 percent sharing that this perspective impacts their decision to spend or save their tax refund.

To combat this, a majority of respondents have done more budgeting (68%) and 44 percent have spent less money, overall.

43 percent anticipate getting a tax refund in 2024, slightly up from 40 percent last year. (Photo by ADragan on Shutterstock)

High inflation and an unpredictable economy make many Americans feel uncertain around tax season,” says spokesperson Tony Mokry, chief marketing officer at Cricket Wireless, in a statement. “For many, this is the only time of year that they receive a windfall and how they treat these funds oftentimes sets the tone for their year financially. We continue to encourage consumers to look for value where they can, particularly on recurring bills like phone plans.”

However, those surveyed are taking control of their finances, keeping track of them on their phone (51%). While only half of respondents last year used a banking app (52%), that number is up to 92 percent of those who use finance apps today.

Mobile wallet (48%) and investing apps (42%) were also among the most common finance apps last year and are still popular among respondents this year (66% and 39%, respectively).

Credit score management apps have also climbed in popularity (39%) and one in five have a tax filing app, too (18%). To make use of their resources, nearly a quarter of those who own a smartphone will use it to file their taxes in 2024 (23%).

“It’s reassuring to see that more people are using their phones to manage their finances,” says Mokry. “It’s difficult to stay on top of it all, but having access at your fingertips takes the headache out of managing money, making it easier than ever to track your spending, budget effectively, and work towards your financial goals.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Cricket Wireless between Jan. 11 and Jan. 16, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Patrisha Antonaros

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