Innovations to Build Financial Security at Tax Time

Commonwealth has embraced tax time as a unique opportunity to build financial security - it happens predictably every year, people are already thinking about their finances, and a tax refund is often the largest check that families receive each year. We were part of early collaborations that led to the creation of IRS tax form 8888, which allows refunds to be split into savings accounts; we promote the use of – and access to – tax time savings bonds as a safe, fee-free, interest-bearing, and giftable savings option; and we have offered SaveYourRefund for the past six years.

This tax year, Commonwealth undertook two new efforts to expand our impact and test new ideas about tax time financial security.

First, we launched a new tax time savings pilot in partnership with EARN - Savers Win, a pledge and prize campaign on their online SaverLife platform. The campaign engaged over 9,000 people and generated data-informed insights about the experience and behavior of financially vulnerable people before, during, and after tax season. Check out our report, Savers Win at Tax Time: Testing Digital Strategies to Promote Tax Time Saving, to read about the campaign and how what we learned can inform future efforts to build financial security at tax time.

Drawing on our past and ongoing tax time experiences, Commonwealth also set out to think more expansively about the tax time opportunity and potential strategies for broader-scale impact. We interviewed subject matter experts, conducted secondary research, and convened an advisory group. We learned about what has or hasn’t worked and explored promising new opportunities to build financial security at tax time. Read our report - Tax Time and Beyond: Future Directions for Advancing Financial Security – to learn more about the opportunity to build financial security at tax time, and how we’re thinking about the future of tax time savings. Our partners at EARN have also released a brief, detailing interesting data around the Savers Win pilot.

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