14 answers

Income Tax Refund Question

A previous question got me thinking...
Seems like some people think that by tweaking their exemptions one way, they can be "lucky" enough to get "one HECK of a refund" after they file their taxes.
Is that wise?
Would you rather break even at year end?
Why or why not?

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I prefer breaking even. I save the money myself rather than the govt saving it for me. I would rather spend my money throughout the year rather than them taking it and me possibly NOT seeing it at refund time.... it happens :) I don't trust the feds much.

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I prefer breaking even. I save the money myself rather than the govt saving it for me. I would rather spend my money throughout the year rather than them taking it and me possibly NOT seeing it at refund time.... it happens :) I don't trust the feds much.

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I'd rather break even or get just a little bit back. Doesn't make sense to give all that money that belongs to you if you are not going to receive interest on it while it is in their possession.

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We claim more dependents than we should (on the W4) so that they keep less money.. and we still usually get a large refund. But I'd rather get a large refund than try to work the numbers out exactly right. Why? Because EVERY year we have to worry about the AMT. We are SOOO close to being hit with it every year... and we never know until after the taxes are prepared if we will get hit with it or not. And with all the mid-year tax "rebates" and what not that the politicians play around with... who knows how they will turn out each year. Every year we qualify for a little less of the child credit than the standard $1,000 each... so we just really never know. I'd rather get a check than have to come up with extra cash in the first months of the year...

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When you say tweaking it sounds bad!!! We too have had to spend a few years learning how to be good savers and used our Tax Returns to help us do that. It was easier for us to have lots taken out of our paychecks and then get a large portion back to pay off debts. Now that we have gotten good at saving we will do the opposite and get larger paychecks and smaller tax returns.

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We use our "tweaks" to make it that we get a big refund so it's like a savings account for us. We pay a lot more in taxes every paycheck, but get a refund and it's good for us b/c we are terrible savers!

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I'd rather get a refund than owe, so we try to break even, but dont mind if we end up getting a refund instead.

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It depends on how tight the budget it. Why wait for a 3000 dollar refund when 250.00 extra a month could be a livesaver? I also don't like having uncle sam keep my money interest free when it could be earning interest somewhere else.

On the flip side, if someone has an overspending hubby like I do, letting uncle keep it gives me a chunk to put down on bills before he gets his hands on it!

I am on the fence depending on the situation for this one.

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With today's rate of return what is truly the difference between a bank giving you .01% interest or the federal government giving you 0%.

There might be more of a debate in a different economic climate.

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I would rather break even at year end and not have to pay anything else in. A lot depends on your income bracket and what income credits you may qualify for. If you are living on credit because you can't pay your bills every month and you get a big refund, you should restructure your exemptions to get more money each month to pay your bills. Although the interest argument (with low interest rates it doesn't pay to invest the money) might be valid, your cost of carrying debt is a whole lot higher because credit card and loan payments are at a much higher rate.

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I always wonder why people get so excited about a refund. It's just money the government has been using for the whole year without paying you interest for it. It's not a bonus or anything.

I would much rather break even, as you say, or maybe even owe a little bit. I make sure I don't get a refund. I don't want the government holding MY money. I'd rather hold it myself and either spend it, save it or invest it.

What if the government goes broke and won't give you the money back? Think it can't happen? HA.

1 mom found this helpful

My hubby and I don't do anything crazy when we file our taxes... but we do get a refund every year... We aren't too good with saving throughout the year (especially now that we have a baby) so it benefits us to get a refund back because then we use that money to take a vacation (we drive down to Florida to visit friends every year).
I know some people who go all out and try to add every single exemption that they can and probably stretch the guidelines to get back as much as they can.
It probably would be nice to have that extra money in each of our paychecks, but since I know we're not good with saving... I don't think we'd have as good of a vacation every year (not that we do anything crazy, but it's just nice to not have to like, budget like crazy while we're on vacation).
I'll be happy as long as we don't owe, LOL!

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I have always had w2 form set at the highest withholding in order to avoid the risk of owing at the end of the year. I have read that basically if you get a refund you do not have your withholdings done correctly and you are letting someone else earn interest on your money. It just feels like you are getting money at the end of the year but it is money you could have been getting on your paycheck. I am thinking of revisiting my w2 this year because a little more in my paycheck each month would probably help my family more than a large amount once a year that we are more likely to use see disappear. I usually have a good idea of what we will get though because it is usually everything we had taken out and a little more, depending on our deductions, because we are in a lower income bracket. I don't think it is wise or unwise myself, but I think for the first time monthly bills are going to trump the tax return. :)

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I like getting a refund because I am not very good at savings right now... working on it, but still haven't mastered it. And bank's interest sucks anyways so not a whole lot of difference. After ALLLLL the taxes they take out of a paycheck it's an insult for them to want more at the end of the year. After paying so much in taxes, I want some of it back.. it's like getting some of your salary back, you know, the money YOU worked for.

Update** Your right about struggling paycheck to paycheck, I personally don't have that problem... my parents have bills galore and then have to pay 3-4k at tax time it's ridiculous. So they can't pay off bills with tax money or stop struggling like they are because the gov't wants more.

I do agree that breaking even is the ideal situation but I do love that mirage of a refund sometimes, it always seems to come when I need it ironically. But I do think the extra 2-300 a month would be awesome too so I too, am on the fence. Anything is better than owing though but sometimes the refund isn't even about taxes you already paid, it could be from tax credits, pell grants or children.
@Bobbi - I'm more nervous about the bank's going stupid since they seem to be doing it already with mortgages lol. but that's a good point

1 mom found this helpful

I know I'm VERY late in answering, but upon doing a search, I found this question... I wanted to answer because our family has a different perspective. We get a very hefty "refund" check w/o filing exemptions prior (my husband is self-employed, so there's no W2's, etc)... because we are poor, basically- so maybe some people look forward to their (what I like to call "pity") checks because they get money "back" simply from making under the required income for it... Yep, we are poor, and the government knows it.

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