Behavioral Interventions to Increase Tax-Time Saving: Evidence From a National Randomized Trial

Additional Authors

Russell, Blair D.; Gale, William; Key, Clinton; Ariely, Dan

Publication Date



Too many households have too little set aside for emergencies, long-term goals, or retirement. This study presents evidence from the Refund to Savings Initiative, a large-scale randomized experiment testing interventions to increase household savings by encouraging filers to set aside a portion of their tax returns. Grounded in techniques of behavioral economics, these interventions are delivered to a randomized sample through TurboTax Freedom Edition, an online tax-preparation platform for low- and middle-income households. The experiment exposed treatment participants to several combinations of motivational prompts and suggestions to save portions of their tax refunds. The findings generate important insights for policy makers working to boost financial security in low- and middle-income households.

Document Type



Financial Inclusion


Financial Behaviors

Original Citation

Grinstein-Weiss, M., Russell, B. D., Gale, W. G., Key, C., & Ariely, D. (2017). Behavioral interventions to increase tax-time saving: Evidence from a national randomized trial. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 51(1), 3–26. doi:10.1111/joca.12114


Refund to Savings (R2S)


Refund to Savings (RS), experiment, randomized controlled trial, tax refunds, TurboTax Freedom Edition, retirement, saving, savings, savings, contingency, United States, low income