John Hancock Survey Finds Payroll Tax Changes Don't Affect Many Investors' Behavior

-- Despite reduction in take-home pay due to increased payroll tax, half of investors have not changed their behavior; one-third spent less

-- Half of investors plan to save any Federal tax refunds; those inclined to spend their refund plan to take a vacation

Apr 09, 2013, 10:00 ET from John Hancock Financial

BOSTON, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Half of investors have not changed their savings or spending behavior despite a reduction in take-home pay due to payroll tax changes this year, according to the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey.  Fifty-two percent of investors surveyed said they have not changed their behavior, while 32 percent said they are spending less and 19 percent said they are contributing less to savings, as a result of the tax increase that went into effect in January of 2013, whereby the amount of money withheld from paychecks for Social Security taxes returned to its pre-recession level.

Nearly half of investors (47 percent) expect to receive a Federal tax refund this year. A third (32 percent) expect they will owe Federal tax.  The survey also found that 53 percent of investors plan to put any Federal tax refund into a savings account.  Just over a quarter (27 percent) plan to pay down debt, while one in five (18 percent) plan to spend their refund.

Of those who plan to spend their tax refund, over a third (36 percent) say they will spend it on a vacation, which represents a decrease from last year (51 percent in Q1 of 2012). A quarter (25 percent) plan to spend their refund on basic household needs, while one in five (20 percent) will spend it on home improvements.

Many say they are familiar with changes made to the estate tax law in late 2012 (49 percent). Forty percent are familiar with the changes made to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) also in late 2012. A majority of investors (74 percent) say that they are not likely to make changes to their personal financial plans as a result of changes to the estate tax law. And more than half (55 percent) say that their household finances will not be affected by changes made to the AMT rate.

John Hancock's Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of affluent investors.  The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment.  The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and likelihood of purchasing financial products and services.

About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey
This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates.  A total of 1,066 investors were surveyed from February 11th to February 22nd, 2013.   To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household's financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000 or more. The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey's qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.06 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent.

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$532 billion (US$535 billion) as at December 31, 2012. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at

SOURCE John Hancock Financial