savings bonds

How Do I Buy A Paper Savings Bond Using My Tax Refund?

savings bonds

Hankering to hold good old-fashioned paper bonds? You can still obtain them by using your Federal Income Tax refund to buy paper Series I Savings Bonds.

Paper Savings Bonds represent an iconic American investment. Often purchased for patriotic reasons, especially during war times, they were also an affordable, safe and secure way for millions to save for retirement or education purposes.  In their heyday, millions of paper bonds were purchasing in schools, through financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, and via company sponsored payroll deduction plans.

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As of January 2012, the government discontinued the sale of paper savings bonds and replaced them with electronic versions. 

5 Tips For Purchasing Paper Bonds Using Your Tax Refund:

1. Include Government Form 8888 When Filing Your Federal Income Tax Return

  • Fill out Form 8888 instructions – Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases).
  • Complete Part 2 of form.
  • Indicate if you want to use all or part of your refund to purchase paper I bonds.
  • As of 2018, both electronic and paper versions are available
  • EE paper bonds are not available.

2. Designate All Or Part Of Your Tax Refund Towards The Purchase Of Series I Paper Savings Bonds

  • Maximum purchase amount is $5,000.
  • Purchases must be made in minimum increments of $50.
  • Denominations available: $50, $100, $200, $500, and $1,000.
  • If purchasing less than $250, $50 denominations will be used.
  • If purchasing over $250, $50 denomination will be used for first $250. Remainder of the order will be filled using the fewest number of bonds.
  • Any remaining refund balance amounts requested after bonds have been purchased, will be mailed via a check, or directly deposited into a checking or savings account.
  • No need to set up an online Treasury Direct account.
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3. Bonds Can Be Purchased For Yourself Or Someone Else

  • Paper bonds will be mailed to you even if you name another person on the bonds.
  • When purchasing bonds for others, the bonds will be issued in the name(s) that you indicate on Form 8888.
  • Single owner, co-owner, and beneficiary registrations are available.
  • You can purchase bonds for your children and grandchildren.
  • If you are married and filed a joint tax return, normally the savings bond(s) will be issued in both your name and your spouse’s name (check with Treasury regarding current rules).
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4. Bonds May Be Eligible For The Education Tax Exclusion*

  • Qualified investors may be able to exclude all or part of the interest earned from all eligible savings bonds issued since 1989 when paying for qualified higher education expenses.
  • Married couples must file jointly to be eligible for the exclusion.
  • Bonds must be issued/registered in the name of the taxpayer, who is at least 24 years old at the time of issuance and meet certain income requirements. Learn more.

*The Treasury Department may discontinue offering paper bonds using your tax refund at any time. Check with the Treasury Department and your professional financial or tax advisor before filing any government forms.

5. Bonds Are Ordered After Your Tax Return Is Processed

  • It may take up to three weeks for the savings bonds to be delivered in the mail.
  • If you have elected to have a portion of your refund deposited. directly into your bank account, you might receive your refund before the savings bond(s) arrive.

How Do Series I Bonds Work?

  • Series I Savings Bonds are purchased at face value, meaning a $100 bond will cost $100.
  • Consist of a fixed interest rate (which remains the same for the life of the bond), along with a variable interest rate that will likely change every 6 months.
  • Earn interest for up to 30 years.
  • Must be held for a minimum of 1 year.
  • Guaranteed to never lose money in any economic climate.

SavingsBonds.com Complimentary Calculator provides Series EE and I Savings Bond Interest Rates and Values.

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What Registrations Are Available For Paper I Bonds?

Single ownership, co-ownership (two people), and beneficiary registrations are available for paper bonds. You can also request bonds in the names of other people and give the bonds as gifts.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Receive My Paper Savings Bonds?

  1. Check the status of your refund at “Where’s My Refund” at www.irs.gov or call 800-829-1954.
  2. Check the status within 24 hours of when IRS received your e-filed return, or four weeks after you mailed in a paper return.
  3. After the IRS has processed your refund and placed the order for your savings bonds, call toll free 844-284-2676 to inquire about your bonds status.

Electronic bonds are a turn off for many.  Those who used to purchase paper savings bonds as gifts for children and grandchildren or for birthdays, baptisms, graduations, no longer see them as a viable option. The electronic versions are cumbersome to purchase, requiring setting up an online Treasury Direct account, and obtaining banking information. Purchasing paper I Bonds with your tax refund became available in January 2010.

About SavingsBonds.com: SavingsBonds.com is an online financial bond management company providing essential U.S. Savings Bond information since 1992. For over 26 years, bond experts have created various consumer programs, tools and services not offered elsewhere, including an online complimentary savings bond calculator, providing cash in values with important financial information presented on a personalized, color-coded Savings Bond Inventory Report. Unique savings bond management services include signature monthly summary emailed Savings Bond Statements, which help bond owners maximize their investment, avoid losing money and paying unnecessary taxes.

Last Updated: March 18, 2019

About the author

Jackie Brahney is the Marketing and Editorial Director and most notably, an U.S. Savings Bond Expert for SavingsBonds.com. Since 1991, she has done extensive research on savings bonds and state of the art savings bond valuation systems, and heads the company's public relations and marketing initiatives.

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