Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again………Tax time! The tax filing season officially opened on January 23rd. For some, it’s a silent moan or groan but for others it’s a small celebration (depending on whether you owe taxes or are expecting a refund). According to Forbes.com, in 2016 over 50% of tax filers received a tax refund. The average refund was $3053. In my opinion, that’s more than just “pocket change”. If you are anticipating a refund I’d like for you to consider the following;
- Why are you getting a tax refund anyway? The short answer to that is that your tax liability is less than your withholdings, which results in a refund. This can occur for several reasons, but just to name a couple, you are over withholding taxes for your filing status, you receive some type of tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child & Dependent Care Credit, American Opportunity Education Tax Credit).
Consider- Speaking with a tax professional about how to adjust your tax withholdings so that you will receive more money in your paycheck, rather than receiving it in one lump sum at the beginning of the year. This can give you the necessary income needed to establish an emergency savings account, balance your monthly budget or invest in a retirement savings plan.
- How much are you paying to have your taxes filed? Obviously this will vary greatly depending on if you prepare your taxes or you pay someone else to do it, whether you are filing an individual tax return (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ), or a business return and how complex your tax situation is.
Consider- If your adjusted gross income is $64,000 or less you can use the IRS’s list of free filing software that is linked from the IRS website (subject to simple limitations) www.irs.gov. You will need to meet 1 of the 3 requirements to utilize the software (Earn less than $64,000 in adjusted gross income, qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit or earn an income as an active duty member of the U.S. Military). If your adjusted gross income is over $64,000, you can use the IRS’s Fillable Forms tool that allows you to complete common tax forms. If you gross adjusted income is less than $64,000 you can take advantage of VITA or TCE sites in your community. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) are IRS-certified volunteers who provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. To locate a VITA site either call 1-800-906-9887 or use the Locator Tool at https;//irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/. For TCE sites call AARP @ 1-888-227-7669 or use AARP Tax-Aide Site Locator Tool at https://secure.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action
- What are you going to do with your tax refund? Past articles from Time & Forbes indicated that Americans used their money to pay down debt (credit cards & student loans), everyday living expenses, home & auto repairs, savings, travel and to purchase big ticket items.
Consider- If you are using your refund to pay down credit card debt, you might want to ask yourself what you used the credit cards for and why didn’t the balances get paid off when the bill came in. If you used the credit cards to purchase items, compare if the purchases were needs vs. wants. If they were needs, then that might indicate that you have more monthly expenses than income. If they were wants, it’s more economical to save for them rather than purchase them with a credit card where you are paying interest. Same thing goes if you are using your tax refund for basic living expenses. That’s an indicator that you have more expenses than income.
If you are struggling with money management, debt issues or just want to get your financial house in order, give Apprisen a call. Our certified Financial Services Specialists will be happy to assist you in assessing your current financial situation and goals and recommend viable options to help you reach your financial objective(s). For more info call us at 1.800.355.2227, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with us at www.apprisen.com.