From the San Francisco Regional Financial Center

Treasury Expands the Purchase of Savings Bonds Using Tax Refunds

Three U.S. Treasury bureaus, the Financial Management Service (FMS) (San Francisco Financial Center), the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), joined with the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) in an effort to expand the ability of taxpayers to use their tax refunds to purchase Savings Bonds for themselves or on behalf of others. The process, which was initiated in 2010, was expanded this year to allow taxpayers to customize their Savings Bonds registrations.

New features in 2011:

  • Using Form 8888 on their tax return, taxpayers can split the refund and designate all or a portion of it to other accounts and/or purchase up to three Savings Bonds in someone else’s name.

  • Taxpayers can also designate a co-owner or beneficiary.

Expanded Opportunity for the Unbanked: To expand this Savings Bonds option to include those who may not have access to a bank account, taxpayers are given the option to request any residual refund amount as a paper check.

Timely System changes: To make these expanded options possible the three agencies and the FRB needed to make substantial changes to file formats and software programs under tight deadlines. The new file formats were tested for the 2011 changes and regression tested to assure that past functionality was unaffected. Extensive interagency interfaces were also thoroughly tested through the IRS tax refund processing, FMS payments, claims and offset systems, BPD and FRB savings bonds issue systems, which resulted in a smooth implementation.

Increased Purchases: This effort has resulted in an increase in the use of tax refunds for the purchase of savings bonds. As of April 1, 2011, the Savings Bonds Phase II implementation had already surpassed the 2010 Savings Bonds purchases. The results, to date, are as follows below.


2011 YTD
(as of July 31, 2011)

2010 YTD

# of Self and Gift Registrations



# of Self and Gift Bonds



Total Dollar Amount



   Last Updated:  August 24, 2011