All Articles Tagged "tax refund bonus"
As this year’s tax deadline has arrived, many of you have already filed your personal income taxes for 2011. Some of you even filed extra early because you had a big refund coming. But here’s something you should remember about tax refunds: if you’re getting a refund, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Here’s the way your income taxes work. When you start a job, you fill out a W-9 tax form that tells your employer how much you’d like him to withhold from your paychecks to send the IRS in anticipation of your tax obligation. When you file your income taxes the next spring, the IRS compares what you actually owe to what you’ve already paid through paycheck withholding. You only get a refund if you paid too much.
Of course, getting money back is obviously better than owing money. But a tax refund isn’t a bonus. It’s the money you overpaid. It’s just that you’ve essentially allowed the government to hold onto that money all year. They didn’t pay you interest on it. They didn’t give you a nice card. They didn’t even say thank you. They just sent you a check like they’ve done you some sort of favor.
Now some people can’t save any other way or just prefer to receive this money in one big lump sum every year. But if you’re someone who doesn’t need the government to hold your money all year and then hand it back to you when they’re ready, you don’t really want a tax refund. Instead, you could use that extra money to live on throughout the year. Or you could invest it and earn money on it. If that sounds better to you, you should fill out your W-9 tax form in a way that limits the amount your employer takes out of your paycheck so that you’re about even at the end of the year.
Fortunately, the IRS has an online withholding calculator to help you figure out how much you should be sending in from your checks. Using it, you can adjust your W-9 tax form so that you’re paying just what you owe instead of overpaying.
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