Key Takeaway

SaveUSA works to help low-income families save; here’s how to do it.

Piloted at select free tax preparation sites in four cities, SaveUSA is a simple tax time matched savings program — tax filers who deposited part of their refund into a designated account, and maintained the deposit for a year, received a 50% savings match up to $500.

SaveUSA was designed to test if the tax time moment, when tax filers with low incomes often receive a significant refund, could be used to encourage filers to save for the short-term as a realistic first step towards longer-term financial stability. New evaluation results, from a rigorous randomized control trial, provide strong evidence that low-income families can save for the short-term, and the tax time moment can be leveraged to help them do so.

This Playbook was designed for communities interested in replicating SaveUSA, and includes information on designing the program, including key program elements, as well as talking points to develop SaveUSA champions. The SaveUSA program was supported by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and created in partnership with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment.

Additional Takeaways

Programs must determine key goals, assess capacity, and coordinate program operations across stakeholders.

Model replications can add to the evidence base and strengthen the case for integrating savings opportunities in the tax code.

SaveUSA gives low-income families a realistic first step to save through their tax refund, often the largest check received all year.

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