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The annual tax refund treasure hunt

Easter Eggs Spring time is in full bloom, and again we start the great annual treasure hunt during tax time. However, the Easter Bunny’s not behind it. It’s Uncle Sam, and much like the rascally rabbit, he hides his tax breaks in both obscure and obvious places for you to find. Once the hunt is over though — according to the IRS — the average American tax refund weighs in at $3,120. This would buy a large number of Peeps. But no matter how much you love those little yellow marshmallow chickens, there are some more practical and long-lasting ideas for your windfall.

What to do with your tax refund in 2018

I always encourage my regular clients to pay off debt, helping to free them from its stranglehold. A second option is to fund a Roth IRA or other retirement account to further prepare for your future (specifically, a Roth IRA can help you avoid taxes when you need to get your money out.) Or, add to your emergency fund so that your next really bad day is not that big of a deal.

But what about other options beyond the normal financial advisor basics? I reached far into my financial Easter basket and came up with these.

Leverage Your Tax Refund

3 less obvious ways to leverage your tax refund

  1. Open a 529 account for your children or grandchildren. The proceeds can be used tax free to help fund higher education. Even if you have no intentions of paying for your loved one’s college expenses, the new tax plan allows individuals to take up to $10,000 per year from their 529 and use it for K-12 private education.
  2. I talked about this in my last post, but I cannot talk enough about funding an HSA. Your contributions are tax deductible, the account grows tax deferred, and if used on medical expenses — the distributions are tax free. This is a great way to plan for medical expenses before starting a family or planning for retirement.
  3. Start a benevolence fund for your home to encourage generosity in your children and yourself. Let’s say that you received the average return to the penny, $3,120 divide over a year is $260 per month. Once a month at dinner, each of your family members present a non-profit, cause, or need in their community that is close to their heart. The cause that receives the most votes by the family receives the monthly allotted amount and is presented by the family’s champion. If at all possible, make sure to get a tax advisor to write off the gift and allow the generosity to continue.

Your tax refund: hard earned money for your future

Even though the check is coming from the US Treasury, make no mistake that this is your hard-earned money. You can make it count.

March 2018


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.

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