Some 48 million Americans have received a tax refund from the federal government so far this year, and what they do with the money is as varied as the country itself.
A survey by Bankrate.com finds that nearly a third of respondents (31 percent) receiving a refund said they plan to save or invest it, while 28 percent said they intend to use it to pay down debt. Twenty-seven percent said they would use the funds to pay for necessities, such as food or utility bills.
Bankrate said both young and old respondents were aligned in their interest to build on their tax refund, with 41 percent of millennials and 51 percent of retirees saying they plan to save or invest this money.
Surprisingly few Americans -- just 6 percent -- plan to use the cash they get back from Uncle Sam to splurge on a vacation or shopping spree, though that's the double the percentage compared to last year. Bankrate's Money Pulse survey also found that slightly more than half (51 percent) of Americans expect to get a refund or have already received it this year.
With about a month to this year's filing deadline (April 18), the majority of returns (80 percent) filed by Americans were for refunds -- not surprising, considering those who owe taxes tend to wait closer to the filing deadline to submit their returns. The average refund issued, as of Feb. 26, was $3,053 -- $5 more than last year. Most returns (94 percent) so far have also been electronically filed, according to the IRS.
The tax agency expects more than 150 million returns to be filed this season.
Bankrate's survey also found that Americans would be willing to wait longer for their refund if it would prevent tax fraud. Twenty-two percent said they're willing to wait patiently for up to eight weeks, followed closely by 20 percent who would wait one to two weeks. Fifteen percent said they would not be willing to wait any additional time to safeguard against refund fraud.
Overall, about three-quarters of taxpayers said they would be willing to wait longer for their refunds in an effort to thwart identity thieves from stealing a tax refund.