Tax refunds on the rise
Refunds may be getting larger, but more people are planning on saving those dollars for a rainy day.
By Jessica Seid, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Uncle Sam is giving taxpayers an added incentive to getting their taxes done early this year.

In the first release of tax filing statistics this year, the Internal Revenue Service said that the average refund is up nearly 5 percent to $2,480 from $2,371 a year earlier.

But some taxpayers are still dragging their feet to file -- 54 million tax returns have been filed so far this year, down 1.1 percent from this time last year, the IRS said.

According to the latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index, people plan on being more responsible than usual with their refunds.

Fewer workers said they'll splurge on big ticket items (7 percent in 2006 down from 16 percent in 2003) and more people said they would save and invest their refund in 2006 (38 percent, up from 31 percent).

"Tax time is a great time to take any refund you receive and invest in your future either by opening up an IRA account, or increasing the deferrals in your 401(k) plan." Dan Houston, senior vice president of the Principal Financial Group, said in a statement.

"What's very encouraging today compared to a few years ago is that American workers are increasingly demonstrating a discipline for saving and investing their hard earned dollars, and are less likely than in the past to say they will run out and turn it in for a plasma TV for example."

The Principal Financial Group commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct an online study of 1,374 full- and part-time employees of small and midsized U.S. businesses between Jan. 31 and Feb. 8, 2006.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.