…For the majority of middle-class Americans. I know that as you read this you are looking at the screen with some serious side-eye. Yes, I am getting a hefty return soon, and I am happy to get something. But after this year, I vow not to give the government any more of my money than they deserve.
For my entire working adult life, I had always looked forward to the beginning of the year, when I could file my returns and get a nifty little check back. As I started working more regular, high paying jobs, I rationalized that it would be better to withhold more taxes from my check in the hopes that my return would be higher. Many people do this as a way of saving money for trips, bills, et cetra. How. Idiotic.
That refund that you get back every year is actually an interest-free loan that you’ve voluntarily over-paid the government. And, oh, the refund is the portion that the government feels it should return to you.
Now. Imagine you just got out of college. Imagine calling up Sallie Mae and saying something like “I borrowed $10,000 from you guys. I promise to pay it back next year, granted I have it, and granted I think $10,000 is appropriate. Oh, and let’s just keep it at $10,000–no interest– because we’re cool, ok?” Not only would the customer service rep laugh you into humiliation, they would send your account to collections, stat.
But this is what the government does to millions of people every year. They rely on the ignorance of middle-class and poverty level Americans to get money that isn’t theirs, to use on their own projects (like wars, bank bailouts…).
Here’s a thought. Keep more of your money for yourself. Adjust your W-4’s so that more of your money comes to you throughout the year to do the things that you want to do. The o bject is to get as close to what you are supposed to pay so that you break even. If you’re so interested in saving, put your money to work by having a portion of your paycheck go into an interest-bearing account. You’ll have more money than when you started off. Consider it your middle finger to the IRS.