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New CFPB Pilot Explores Time-Saving Tax Practices
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 6:35 AM

A new pilot program from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will explore ways consumers can be encouraged to save during tax time. According to the CFPB, as part of the Project Catalyst program, the pilot will focus on tax-time saving practices among low-income consumers to help them improve their long-term financial well-being.

H&R Block Inc., which prepares more than 20 million tax returns every year, has agreed to share tax-time savings insights and will test the effectiveness of certain practices. According to the CFPB, a large number of H&R Block's customers fall into the low- and moderate-income category.

The information from H&R Block will be anonymized, and precautions will be taken to ensure individual consumers cannot be identified through the data.

The CFPB is mandated to work to improve financial literacy of consumers by the Dodd-Frank Act, which includes providing access to financial services during the tax preparation process. Over the past three years, the CFPB has launched several initiatives to meet this goal, including a previous partnership with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to encourage consumers to save a portion of their tax refunds.

The CFPB's research study associated with this pilot will explore two major research questions:  1) Can certain strategies encourage saving behavior? And 2) Is saving behavior associated with better outcomes for consumers?

Within these broad questions, the research goals for this project are to evaluate practices to promote saving during tax time and understand saving mechanisms that may improve long-term financial wellbeing.

Find out more about this pilot program.