Testing U.S. Savings Bonds to Help Low-income Tax Filers Begin Saving

Testing U.S. Savings Bonds to Help Low-income Tax Filers Begin Saving

During the 2007 tax season, D2D and four Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites conducted a U.S. Savings Bond pilot test. From January 22nd to March 31st 2007, D2D and its partners offered Series I U.S. Savings Bonds to 4,841 low and moderate income (LMI) tax filers in four cities. This paper presents the results of this pilot, research and policy implications and specific recommendations for action. Key research findings include: Demand for U. S. Savings Bonds among LMI tax filers is strong, and is driven by high brand awareness and attractive product features - six percent (6%) of tax filers with refunds large enough to buy a bond ($50 or more) did so, and bought a total of 377 bonds worth $42,800. This compares with a 3.3% take up of IRAs for tax clients in another test. Nearly 75% of bond purchasers had heard of bonds despite the fact that the U.S. Treasury stopped promoting them in 2003. Bond purchasers, typically single, working parents, bought a significant number of bonds as gifts for the next generation. More than half (54%) of purchasers reported no existing money saved or invested and 67% of those surveyed after the pilot said they would have spent the money if they hadn't bought bonds.

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