Promoting saving at tax time is increasingly seen as an important asset building innovation and opportunity. For many families, tax refunds represent the largest lump sum of money during the year. Additionally, new innovations now allow people to save directly on the tax form, making tax-time saving easier and more automatic.
OpportunityTexas is promoting family savings by capitalizing on the tax time savings moment. We are providing incentives to tax filers at nine free tax preparation sites across the state to encourage filers to save a portion of their tax refund. These sites include the Community Financial Center operated by Foundation Communities in Austin, and at free tax preparation sites supported by the following local United Ways - Southern Cameron County, Costal Bend, Longview, Lubbock Area, Midland, Tarrant County, Mid and South Jefferson County, and Metropolitan Dallas. Foundation Communities is testing a number of incentives to see which type and amount of incentive best motivates filers to save.
The incentives they are testing, which filers will receive if they purchase at least $50 in U.S. Savings Bonds on the tax form, include either a $5, $10 and $20 gift card from HEB and Whataburger or a $50 U.S. Savings Bond. The following pictures from the Community Financial Center in Austin show how Foundation Communities is promoting saving to tax filers and tax preparers.
Wall Mural Promoting Savings, Foundation Communities
Left: Sign Promoting Daily Savings Incentive. Right: A sign on every tax preparer’s computer serves as a reminder to talk about saving with every tax filer
Local United Ways across Texas are also promoting savings at tax time (see above listing of the local United Ways participating). They are offering a $50 U.S. Series I Savings Bond as an incentive to filers that receive at least $500 in a tax refund and purchase at least $100 in U.S. Savings Bonds on the tax form with their refund. Savings incentives at all of the participating sites are limited and first-come, first-served. Please check with the above listed organizations about the availability of savings incentives
Initial results show that the incentives are having a substantial impact on the number of filers now saving a portion of their tax refund. Our hope is that this project demonstrates the excitement of promoting tax time savings and encourages more VITA sites to consider offering savings incentives and promote saving next tax season. We will report the lessons learned and best practices from this project, including which incentives and promotions are most effective at encouraging filers to save after the tax season on our website. We also hope that such demonstrations can increase awareness about the overall benefits of Texas community tax centers.
Please help us spread the word about these tax time savings opportunities in your community!