More Americans are counting on their tax refunds to help them stay afloat this year as inflation lingers

Even as experts say tax refunds are likely to be smaller this year compared with other pandemic years, nearly half of all Americans now say their tax refund will be critical to their household finances.

A new survey from Bankrate found that 43% of Americans say this year’s refund is “very important” to their financial health, with another 32% saying it is “somewhat important.”

That 75% total compares with last year’s 67% who said the refund was important.

The higher measure comes as the expiration of emergency stimulus programs like the expanded child tax credit are expected to shrink the size of refunds that filers can expect this year. Indeed, through the week ending Feb. 17, tax refunds have averaged $3,140, compared with $3,536 last year.

But with inflation at multidecade highs and debt levels steadily climbing, Bankrate found high levels of anxiety associated with how far those tax refunds will ultimately go. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed said they are worried the money won’t make as big of an impact “due to inflation/rising costs,” while another 19% expressed concerns about covering rising interest payments with them.

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