Tax Strategies & Credits

Is Getting a Big Tax Refund Really a Good Thing?

Delia Mena
Is Getting a Big Tax Refund Really a Good Thing?

Lots of tax preparers build their brand by promising hefty refunds to taxpayers, but is a big refund really a good thing?

Refunds Cost You Money.

When you qualify for a tax refund, you are receiving money that you paid to the Internal Revenue Service during the year. The IRS held this money for months, but you earn no interest. Thus, your refund is essentially a free loan made to the government. Had you kept the money, you could have invested it and earned some extra income. Even depositing the money into a savings account earning only one percent interest would have been more beneficial than handing it to the IRS.

In addition to the lack of interest earned, your refund will also lose value through inflation. Over time, the value of money gradually decreases, as the cost of goods increases. This means that your refund will have less buying power when you receive it than it would have had during the previous year.

You Could Have Used it During the Year.

Having trouble making ends meet? The extra money you paid to the IRS may have been just what you needed to keep your family afloat. For example, if you receive a tax refund of $1,200, you would have had an extra $100 each month during the year. A tax refund of $2,400 translates to an extra $200 each month.

Unfortunately, because the IRS was holding onto this money, you may have struggled financially. You may have even taken on high-interest credit card debt or payday loans that could have been avoided if you hadn't been giving the IRS more than its fair share.

You're Likely to Spend it Fast.

Because you receive your tax refund in a lump sum, you may spend it quickly. It feels like extra money, so you are likely to make a frivolous purchase with it. However, if you had received the money in small increments throughout the year, you wouldn't have been tempted to waste it on things you don't need. Instead, you could have used it to improve your overall financial situation.

Preventing Large Refunds

If you frequently receive large tax refunds, you can fix the problem by adjusting the withholding on your W-4. By decreasing the amount of money withheld from your earnings, you will boost the size of your paycheck and reduce the size of the refund you receive during the next year.

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Delia Mena

Delia Mena

Delia Mena, CPA is a Tampa based tax professional who specializes in accounting and tax preparation. Delia is the founder of her own tax based practice, Delia's Accounting Service, based in Tampa, FL. With over 12 years of experience, Delia's practice is fully equipped to assist clients with any of their financial needs. Delia's Accounting Service provides the perfect mix of independent paralegal's, bookkeepers, and notary public professionals providing high quality services to a wide range of clients. To learn more about Delia and her practice, visit her website.

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