Patience Can Multiply Your Tax Refund Savings
With tax season in full swing, some taxpayers are using a little patience to boost their refund by 50 percent. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following "Money Matters" report.
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If someone told you about an investment opportunity with a 50 percent return and zero risk, well, you'd be smart to be skeptical. But here's the exception: The Save USA program, which gives eligible taxpayers the opportunity to set aside some of the money from their refund into a special savings account. Leave it there for a year and the program will match the account 50 cents on the dollar.
"A 50 percent return is a really good investment and all we ask is that you take advantage of the opportunity to save money," said city Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.
The rules are simple. If you earn less than $50,000 a year and have your taxes prepared for free at a participating VITA site, you may be eligible. The account has to be opened right then and there, and the money needs to stay put for a year, but consider this: Set aside $500 of your federal or state refund now and in a year, the account will be worth $750; $1,000 becomes $1,500. All you have to be is patient.
"Up to three quarters of the people who have tried to save, have succeeded in saving," Mintz said. "They have generated a huge amount of savings and a lot of people have kept going. A lot of people have learned that once they've lived without the money for the year, that they can keep doing it and I think that's really important too."
Also important is the fact that there's no risk. You can pull the money out at any time for any reason. There's no penalty, but also no match.
Originally called $aveNYC, the program caught the eye of the Obama Administration which last year replicated it in San Antonio, Newark and Tulsa. Last year, taxpayers in those cities plus New York opened 1,600 accounts, saving close to a million dollars.
"The early results are so encouraging and this national replication I think shows we're really on to something here. Tax time is the moment to be able to pull aside some of a refund, not worry about it, leave it alone and let it generate savings so it will grow," Mintz said.
The minimum deposit to open an account is $200. And while there's no limit on what you can set aside, the program will only match you on the first thousand dollars for a maximum match of $500.
For more information, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/saveusa.