The majority of Americans said they have not taken advantage of the U.S. government’s programs to stimulate the national economy, according to a new survey for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive.
More than nine out of 10 Americans (91%) said they haven’t capitalized on the job stimulus plan covered under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the housing stimulus tax credit of 2009 and Cash for Clunkers. The survey did not ask about the Making Work Pay Tax Credit, which was mainly added by employers to their employees’ paychecks.
“The government’s stimulus efforts and the hard financial challenges people have faced over the past year emphasize the essential role financial literacy plays in our lives,” said Carl George, former chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, in a statement.
The AICPA commissioned the survey in recognition of April as Financial Literacy Month. In 2007 the AICPA began conducting an annual survey of Americans to determine their attitudes toward their finances. The survey this year polled 1,009 U.S. adults.
Four percent of the survey respondents said they have taken advantage of the housing tax credit to buy their first home. That figure represents 5.1 million Americans, The housing stimulus tax credit, which now includes homebuyers who have owned their previous residence for five years and are seeking a new principal home, expires on April 30.
Only 2% each said they applied for jobs through the stimulus program, and another 2% received rebates when purchasing new cars through Cash for Clunkers, the 2009 legislation that encouraged citizens to replace their gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient vehicles. The U.S. government reported creating 608,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009. The government also reported that Cash for Clunkers resulted in the sales of 680,000 vehicles.
Sixty percent of Americans said they were delaying major decisions because of financial concerns. Out of a list of nine, buying an automobile is the most common financial decision Americans are putting on hold (27%). Buying a home ranked fourth, behind “some other major purchase or decision” and medical procedures.