I don’t believe in tax refunds.
I mean, I know they exist, but I don’t believe in loaning the government your money for a year (interest-free!) so they can give it all back to you in the Spring and you can pretend it’s free money and blow it on clothes, trips, toys and/or whatever tickles your fancy.
Some more fiscally sharp taxpayers may decide to pay off credit cards, but if you got a little extra in each paycheck throughout the year like you should have, perhaps you wouldn’t have the credit card debt in the first place.
A tax refund isn’t free money. It’s your money. What’s the point in getting a smaller paycheck? Show me the money!
The first time I thought about taxes I was 21 and my dad wanted me to be part of the process so I could do it on my own after graduating college. My internship had been paying me as an independent contractor, not taking out any taxes and I owed them in a big way. Boo.
The years since then have been a balancing act. With every new tax season I’ve modified my W-2 to attempt to overcompensate for investments I hold. I try to get it as close to zero as possible. But I’ve pretty much always ended up owing. And crying in the middle of H&R Block.
[Insert sound of record scratching to a stop.]
The above was really easy to write BEFORE I did my taxes (on my own this time, thank you very much) and the government told me they wanted to thank me for being so patient in years past by giving ME money this year.
I called them assholes. I saw IRS agents in my future. Then I called my sister because we are in the same tax situation to see what hers ended up being like this year (she also got a return, but attributed it to her tax lady who sets her up to guarantee a return). Then I went to my dad and asked him to review it.
Then I admitted that I did everything right and that the numbers don’t lie and I filed them. Apparently, I overshot just how much I had to overcompensate (and/or overestimated the growth of my investments).
So now I’ve started THE LIST. You know, the “I was just handed free money and NEED to spend it” list. Responsible things like my emergency fund and student loans are on the list, but so are “fun” things. I’m sure I’m going to end up splitting the cash, but, um, yeah, okay, I’m kinda a little excited about getting this extra money (albeit MY money).
I still don’t believe in tax refunds, though! Next year, the mission will again be zero.