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Lake and Porter county residents see some of the biggest tax returns in the state

A 1040 tax form appears on display. A SmartAsset study found Lake and Porter county residents see some of the biggest tax returns in the state.

Lake and Porter county residents take home some of the biggest tax refund checks in the state, pocketing a few thousand dollars on average, a recent study found.

The financial technology company SmartAsset estimates Lake County residents got the fourth-biggest tax returns in Indiana and Porter County denizens the seventh-biggest.

The study estimates 185,650 Lake County residents got refunds that averaged $2,909 last year, while 32,130 Lake County residents owed the Internal Revenue Service an average of $4,027.

An estimated 64,280 Porter County residents got refunds averaging $2,893, while 13,190 households in Porter County owed an average of $5,973.

The IRS reported the average tax refund has been down about 8 percent this year, and a recent study by the J.P. Morgan Chase Institute found families have an average of 28 percent of their tax refund left six months after receiving it, paying down an average of $167 in credit card debt after getting the checks from Uncle Sam.

But tax refunds often result in a boost in consumer spending at area retailers, which sometimes advertise tax refund season deals.

A National Retail Foundation survey of consumers found 50 percent planned to save tax refund money this year, 34 percent wanted to pay down debt, 22 percent would use it on everyday expenses, 12 percent would put it toward vacation, 10 percent wanted to do home improvements, 9 percent planned to make a major purchase, 9 percent would use it on a splurge purchase, and 3 percent would spend it on "other."

The total adds up to more than 100 percent because many of those surveyed planned to do more than one thing with the sudden windfall of money.

About 65 percent of those surveyed expect to get a refund this year, and 48 percent expect it will be about the same as the previous year.

For more information, visit smartasset.com

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.