Effects of a Tax-Time Savings Experiment on Material and Health Care Hardship Among Low-Income Filers

Publication Date



Material and health care hardship is common among households with low incomes and is associated with a host of adverse financial, health, and social outcomes. But recent evidence has suggested that these outcomes can be mitigated with modest savings. Using data from the Refund to Savings Initiative, a team of CSD researchers assessed whether R2S interventions informed by behavioral economics can positively impact hardship among a sample of low- and moderate-income tax filers (N = 4,738). The authors find that filers who received an intervention had a statistically significant, lower probability of both types of hardship 6 months after tax filing, compared to the control group.

Document Type



Financial Inclusion


Financial Behaviors

Original Citation

Despard, M. R., Taylor, S. H., Ren, C., Russell, B. D., Grinstein-Weiss, M., & Raghavan, R. (2018). Effects of a tax-time savings experiment on material and health care hardship among low-income filers. Journal of Poverty, 22(1), 156–178. doi:10.1080/10875549.2017.1348431


Refund to Savings (R2S)


Refund to Savings (RS), TurboTax Freedom Edition, Household Financial Survey (HFS), material hardship, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), savings