Tax refunds are going toward essentials this year

As tax day is almost here, analysts are eagerly waiting to see how refund checks will affect the economy. Unsurprisingly, a recent AP poll has revealed that average taxpayers won't be using their windfalls to boost the tourism economy. In fact, an impressive 54 percent of consumers are planning to use their tax refunds to pay bills. Almost a 20 percent increase over last year, the shifting numbers reflect a major change in priorities.

In 2008, seven percent of consumers claimed that they planned to spend their tax refund on food and clothing; this year, 17 percent will use their stimulus to buy necessities. Meanwhile 37 percent (as opposed to last year's 24 percent) will use their money to pay down debts. Others plan to cover utility bills or other necessities.

Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.
What is a Schedule K-1 Tax Form?
The Schedule K-1 is slightly different depending on whether it comes from a trust, partnership or S corporation. Find out how to use this tax form to accurately report your information on your tax return.
Read MoreBrought to you
Business Use of Vehicles
If you use vehicles in your small business, how and when you deduct for the business use of those vehicles can have significant tax implications. It pays to learn the nuances of mileage deductions, buying versus leasing and depreciation of vehicles. Special rules for business vehicles can deliver healthy tax savings.
Read MoreBrought to you
How to Change Your Tax Filing Status
Choosing your filing status is an important first step for preparing your federal tax return. Your filing status determines your standard deduction, tax rates and brackets.
Read MoreBrought to you
A Guide to Self-Employment Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers, and Beyond [Infographic]
If you work for yourself and don't call anyone your boss, you're likely self-employed. This carries advantages, like not having a manager and deciding your own hours. But it also comes with trade-offs, like paying the self-employment tax and paying for your own employee benefits.
Read MoreBrought to you