Local businesses cashing in on refund dollars during tax season

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Chris Leblanc proudly looked over his new set of wheels Tuesday afternoon on the Team Honda lot. Leblanc purchased his shiny ride with help from his tax refund check.

"I had a rough idea of how much I was getting in and I was already setting aside money and once I did figure exactly what my refund was going to be I was able to budget for the purchase and go about making the deal," said Leblanc.

Leblanc's is just one of 27 million tax returns that have already been filed in 2014 according to numbers from the IRS. 96 percent of those returns were filed electronically and more than 19 million refunds have been issued so far. That is nearly 20 percent more than this time last year.

"Any time tax season comes around we see a big increase in our business usually more so in the used car side. Usually the increase is about 80 percent used cars, 20 percent new cars but this year it seems to have happened a little earlier and a little heavier," said Team Honda General Sales Manager Kenny Scarbro.

The tax refund season serves as a shot in the arm for many local businesses and some try to maximize the impact by offering incentives to those willing to spend hard earned dollars inside their doors.

"We definitely do in fact our advertisement says stretch your tax dollars," said Tom Olinde of Olinde's furniture store in Baton Rouge.

Olinde's family operates 12 furniture stores across Louisiana and he says creative marketing including giving customers tax breaks on purchases goes hand in hand with the refund surge.

"So you can get up to 18 percent off. We try to tie in because we know people are getting tax refunds, we know people are thinking about filing their returns and so we do see somewhat of a lift," said Olinde.

Leblanc says he's on board with the lift as well, happy to put his refund to quick use.

"It's definitely going to feel good to pull up places and getting gas and not being in the old piece of junk I used to have," said Leblanc.

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