Nearly two-thirds of American families will find themselves with a little extra money to spend this spring. The NRF 2004 Tax Returns Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch for NRF, found that 67.6 percent of consumers (or 145.7 million people) expect to receive a tax refund this year.* Although April 15 is the deadline to file taxes, 65.1 percent of consumers filed in January or February while another 20.9 percent will file in March. Only 14.0 percent of consumers plan to wait until April to file their taxes.

Though many consumers plan to use their refund checks to pay down debt (49.2%) or add to their savings (37.4%), others will use their refund for everyday expenses (27.0%), to make a major purchase (11.6%), or for vacation (12.2%).

“Tax time provides a big boost to retailers during a traditionally slow time of the year,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Though some consumers will choose to spend their refunds while others plan to save, these tax refunds will ultimately put consumers in a better position to spend, now and in the future.”

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the average tax return as of March 5, 2004 was $2,182, up 4.4 percent from $2,089 last year at that time.