Paycheck Chronicles

What Do You Do With Your Tax Return?

First Command Financial Services has recently published the Tax Refund survey (it's a Powerpoint that you'll have to download, sorry) that investigates how people spend their income tax return money, and breaks that spending down between military and civilian populations.  It is a sort-of long study, but several really interesting things jumped out at me:

19%  will use their tax refund to pay monthly bills

Whoa!  That is concerning.  This number is up from 16% in 2013, and 14% in 2012.  The report breaks down this bill spending even further, and then it gets even more concerning:
  • 65% of those using their tax refund to pay monthly bills have been doing this for three or more years, and
  • 39% of those using their tax refund to pay monthly bills will be using this money to pay their housing costs.
Folks, I think we have a problem here.  A little math using these figures shows that nearly 8 percent of military respondents plan to use their income tax return money to pay their rent or mortgage.  I have to assume that they're paying their rent or mortgage because they don't have the money to pay their rent or mortgage otherwise.  These are people who are getting a housing allowance from the military to pay their housing expenses.  What in the heck does this mean?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this.

The rest of the report is really interesting, too.  Just keep in mind that it was sponsored by a company that makes a profit by providing financial services to military service members.

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