It’s Tax Day and many people are hoping for tax refunds. But will they save it or spend it? The waiting room was full on Friday at the taxpayer assistance center at Northgate Mall in Durham. Tradell Adkins was there.
“Every year I try to say I’ll get it done around January, February, at the latest March. But it always ends up being in April," says Adkins.
Durham is a part of ‘Ready, Set, Save,’ a pilot program initiated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It encourages moderate to low-income people to save their refunds, pay bills and improve their credit. Adkins says he has an old car, so he saves his return.
“No vacations, none of that, it’s going straight to my bank account," says Adkins.
Cara Williams of Reinvestment Partners says that’s good news. She runs the Northgate mall tax site. Williams says when clients walk in the door, their refund is likely already spent. But she says there’s hope.
“I think more than changing their behavior this year, we’re planting a seed for next year," says Williams.
Tulsa and Birmingham are also ‘Ready, Set, Save’ pilot cities.
Meanwhile, Williams says they usually see about one thousand clients during tax season, but not this year. She says there was a lot of confusion at the start of tax season.
“There was huge delay. There were questions about education credits. There was just a lot of gray area at the beginning of tax season. And we’re wondering if we just lost some folks who decided to go and pay someplace else. I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer to that question," says Williams.
Williams says all the confusion has likely disproportionately affected low-income tax payers the most. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance centers are free for households earning less than $51,000 a year. About half of the people they serve qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.