Survey details consumers' tax refund plans

Aundraya Ruse

Been lusting after a new HDTV or the latest smartphone? What about a tablet device or a laptop? A PriceGrabber survey says many of you will be tapping this year's tax refunds to satisfy your electronic cravings.

According to a survey conducted from March 5-12, 2012, by PriceGrabber, 58 percent of consumers are expecting to receive a tax refund this year. The survey broke down how consumers planned to use their returns.

The consumers who expect to receive a refund fall into two groups: shoppers (43 percent), who'll buy goodies with the money, and self-improvers (57 percent), who say they'll use the money for some sort of activity that will benefit themselves financially.

The shoppers
The shoppers reported they're hot for electronics this year. They'll buy:

  • HDTVs, cameras or smartphones (26 percent).
  • Computers, laptops or e-readers (25 percent).
  • Clothing and home goods (24 percent).
  • Travel and vacations (22 percent).

Graham Jones, the general manager of PriceGrabber, said the survey demonstrates "a consumer appetite to shop this year, with electronic products topping the purchase wish list," Jones said.

The self-improvers
However, the majority of those receiving a refund will not be heading to the mall, opting instead for some sort of self-improvement -- mainly financial. They said they will:

  • Put the money in savings (40 percent).
  • Pay down credit card debt (26 percent).
  • Pay down student loans, auto loans or a mortgage (9 percent).
  • Finance home improvements (10 percent).
  • Invest the refund (7 percent).
  • Use it toward leisure activities (5 percent).

The PriceGrabber survey also asked consumers when they typically file their tax returns and by what method they intend to do it. The survey found that February and March were the top months to file, with 43 percent of consumers claiming they would file in February and 39 percent in March. Additionally, most consumers said they preferred to file electronically -- at 85 percent -- while the remaining 15 percent said they file their returns by mail.

See related: Pros and cons of paying taxes with a credit card