In a collaborative project with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Intuit, Inc., a team of SPI researchers explored methods of promoting the myRA (My Retirement Account) savings program at tax time—when households file their taxes. It focused specifically on opportunities in an online tax-filing setting and in person at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. The program received more than $1 million of the $6 million awarded.
Overall, the study confirmed that many LMI households do not have enough retirement savings and face substantial barriers to saving. These barriers include financial constraints and lack of access to retirement accounts. Both online survey responses and in-person interviews showed that several features of the myRA product—including the lack of fees, the guaranteed interest rate, and the ease of withdrawals—appealed to LMI taxpayers.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that the myRA program would be discontinued, but researchers identified several findings with applications for general tax-time savings promotion. In particular, those findings provide useful insights around messaging and in-person savings promotion at VITA sites. The results may also inform the development of future retirement products or programs. Ultimately the study clearly showed that the need for retirement savings is great among LMI households. Despite barriers, tax time continues to present an opportunity for the promotion of both retirement savings and savings in general.