Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Millions of Taxpayers See Green in the Springtime

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Millions of Taxpayers See Green in the Springtime

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- For millions of taxpayers, it always gets a little greener around springtime.

About $90 billion in tax refund money continues to make its way to nearly two-thirds of the 110 million households who filed 1997 federal income tax returns. The average amount per refund check: $1,342, about 4 percent more than the previous year.

Refunds from overpaid taxes typically arrive three to six weeks from the time a return is received, shorter for those filing electronically or through the Telefile service, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Those who held out until the April 15 deadline, and many did, should see checks popping up in their mailboxes by the end of May. (Oddly, the IRS reports that $62.6 million in refunds, from 99,919 returns, still has gone uncollected from the 1996 tax year. In many cases, taxpayers forgot to notify the agency of an address change, it says.) What will most folks do with their seasonal windfall? Two recent surveys suggest more households are likely to use the extra cash to improve their financial circumstances rather than spend it. One poll, conducted for asset manager Alliance Capital Management, found that of those expecting refunds, 37 percent planned to pay down debts and 35 percent intended to invest or save it. Only 13 percent said they'd make a new purchase. Other plans were not reported in the telephone survey of 1,005 adults. Income levels often come into play in the decision-making, according to a survey by American Express Financial Advisors. It found those earning $50,000 or more annually are more than twice as likely to invest in mutual funds or individual stocks as those making less than $15,000 a year. The lower earners were more inclined to spend their refund dollars on something more fun, like a car. Most financial advisers don't think getting a big refund is a cause for celebration: It simply means taxpayers provided the U. …

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