Household Financial Survey (HFS)

Financial Security

Since 2013, SPI researchers have conducted the Household Financial Survey (HFS), which is administered to a random sample of low- and moderate-income (LMI) households who use TurboTax Freedom Edition to file their taxes. The HFS is national in scope, conducted twice per year, with each year drawing approximately 15,000-30,000 participants from LMI users of Intuit’s tax filing software immediately after they file their taxes and about 5,000-10,000 participants six months after tax filing. The surveys include a comprehensive array of questions about household demographics, financial characteristics, ownership of debt and assets, and experience of financial shocks and hardships. Survey responses are merged with administrative tax records. The resulting dataset has been used to study a broad set of issues related to financial security of LMI households.

In past years, a number of topics have been examined as part of the Refund to Savings (R2S) initiative, including (but not limited to):

  • The ways in which households prioritize financial resources in an emergency;
  • The factors that predict income volatility in LMI households, and the ways in which these LMI households try to manage their volatility;
  • The role of health insurance in households’ financial lives;
  • The relationship between student debt ownership and household hardship and the ways that this relationship differs across racial and ethnic groups;
  • The mediating relationship of household assets between financial shocks and material hardships;
  • The reasons for alternative financial service usage.

The current and forthcoming research expands and complements the previous work, exploring other research areas related to financial security of LMI households, including (but not limited to):

  • A comprehensive analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) financial well-being scale in an LMI population;
  • An in-depth analysis of tax behaviors, demographic characteristics, financial behaviors, and employment among LMI participants of gig (or sharing) economy;
  • The impact of expansions of state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits on material and medical hardships;
  • An analysis of life satisfaction and optimism among LMI households;
  • The issues surrounding financial inclusion in LMI households with people with disabilities.

Principal Investigators

SPI Staff