New poll: 43% think they paid too much in taxes, 64% using refund to pay bills

It's deadline day to file your tax returns and a new poll finds 42 percent of New Yorkers say they paid too much in taxes while 43 percent think they paid the right amount.

A new poll released by the Siena College Research Institute also finds 52 percent have already or expect to receive a tax refund. Of those, 64 percent plan to use the refund to pay bills. Another 33 percent will hold onto some of it for emergencies and 21 percent will put a portion of the refund away for their retirement.

"One thing that young and old do agree on is that the retirement prospects are on the decline. Among those not currently retired, forty-five percent believe their quality of life in retirement will be worse than those that retired already and among those currently retired, sixty-three percent predict that people in their thirties or forties today will have a worse retirement quality of life than they now enjoy," according to Dr. Don Levy, SRI's Director.

Among those who haven't retired, only 41 percent have contributed to their retirement fund above any contributions their employer may have made over the last six months. Forty-three percent say they made no contribution and 9 percent withdrew from their retirement. Among all New Yorkers, only 21 percent say they are better off financially today than they were a year ago and 31 percent have spent more money than they took in while 48 percent say that their income and expenses were about even this year.

Fifty-nine percent of current retirees say that Social Security is a major source of their income ranking it above pensions (42%), savings (19%) and 401k's (8%). Those not yet retired list Social Security as their third major source of planned retirement income with 401k's ranking first and savings second.

"We asked New Yorkers to tell us how they were preparing for retirement. Only forty-five percent have a written monthly budget that they use to keep track of income and expenses. A majority does have at least $1000 in savings but only forty-three percent have socked away six months of expenses. More than half have life insurance and fifty-four percent have a 401K but fewer than forty percent of New Yorkers have a will, a portfolio of individual stocks, or a financial advisor," noted Levy.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of people surveyed think Social Security will be bankrupt within the next 20 to 25 years. But New Yorkers are divided on what should be done.

Fifty-four percent favor lessening benefits for those who retire with significant wealth while 36 percent disagree. On three other suggestions, partial privatization, increasing the payroll deduction rate and increasing the payroll cap from $106,800 to 90 percent of taxable income, people appear evenly divided. New Yorkers surveyed strongly oppose raising the age at which citizens can collect from Social Security to 70 years of age.

"With so many New Yorkers continuing to feel the pinch of a difficult economy, it's no wonder so many have concerns about their ability to retire. Among those that have not yet retired over half say it is a significant concern for them to be able to save enough to retire, and most worry about how much it will cost them to live when they do. Fifty-nine percent are worried about saving enough and fifty-one percent are concerned whether Social Security will or won't be there when it is their turn," Levy said.

"About two-thirds of those already retired, are significantly concerned about the cost of health care, the general cost of living and continuing to receive Social Security benefits. Forty-four percent of retirees say that their quality of life has worsened in retirement, but sixty-two percent are at least somewhat confident that they will be able to maintain their standard of living at the same level throughout their retirement," Levy notes.

Over the past two years, among those not yet retired, 50 percent put money in a savings account, 47 percent put money in a 401k, 23 percent met with a financial advisor, 13 percent invested in real estate, and 10 percent started a business. Nine percent admit hey haven't done anything in the last two years to save for retirement. Still, 23 percent are very confident and 46 percent are somewhat confident that upon retirement they will be able to continue to enjoy the same standard of living.

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