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1 in 3 Americans Will Spend Their Tax Refund (and That's a Bad Idea)

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Tens of millions of Americans will be getting tax refunds this year, but many won't be putting theirs in the bank. Instead, one study says they'll be cashing and spending it. That's good for the economy -- but is it good for consumers?

Americans got $318 billion in tax refunds last year -- down from $328 billion in 2010, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The average refund was $2,913 last year, again down slightly from 2010 when it was at $3,003, the IRS reports.

Getting a tax refund? Best to think of it as a paycheck rather than free money from the government.

What will Americans do with all that loot this year? A survey from Capital One (COF - Get Report) has some answers on that front.

Capital One found that 33% of Americans will spend all or part of their tax refund this year.

The survey also says 44% of Americans will use the cash to pay down debt or stash it in a bank account, and 5% say they will invest the money.

According to survey, here are some other ways Americans plan on spending their refund check this year:

  • 8% will use the cash for a vacation.
  • 6% will buy clothes.
  • 9% will make a major purchase, such as a new car or big appliance.
  • 28% will use their tax refunds for "everyday expenses."

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