Be smart with your tax refund

Published on: 04/16/2012 By: Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn

Are you receiving a tax refund this year? No doubt you’ve already heard the standard admonishment about why you should not be giving the government an interest-free loan. Maybe you’ve decided to “do better” during 2012 by revising your withholding or estimated tax payments to reduce the amount of next year’s refund — or maybe you haven’t.

Either way, set aside your guilt. Financial planning means creating effective strategies that work for you — which can include forcing yourself to save by overpaying your income tax during the year.

The more important consideration is what you do with the money you get back. Here are ideas for making the most of your refund.

* Save. The unexpected happens. The question is, how do you pay the resulting bills? Parking part of your refund in a readily accessible location, such as a bank checking, savings, or money market account, will help you weather short-term, temporary setbacks without incurring penalties or transaction fees.

* Spend. Spending your refund wisely can get your finances in shape and pay off over the long run. For instance, home improvements like energy-efficient windows or a new water heater may result in lower electric and insurance bills. Refinancing your mortgage reduces your monthly cash outlay, freeing money for investing or saving. Ditto for paying down high-interest credit cards — so long as you resist the urge to reload them.

* Self-invest. Using your refund to refresh your current career-related skills or to learn new ones can provide a double benefit: more employment opportunities and tax savings. Unsure of your job security? Put your refund to work by financing a home-based business and creating a second stream of income.

Give us a call for assistance related to your tax withholding, estimated tax payments, or tax refund.