I know, I know, you LOVE your tax refund. It's like finding a $20 bill in your heavy coat the first time you put it on for the winter. In fact, when the The National Foundation for Credit Counseling conducted an informal poll, 56 percent of respondents said they "intentionally plan to always receive a refund each year."
It's the second year in a row that a majority of people have said this. "The findings suggest that receiving an income tax refund has become standard operating procedure for some people," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.
But it's not a good idea and the Foundation says you need to fall out of love with your refund –fast. Why? Here are 5 reasons receiving a tax refund is not a good idea.
•Interest-free loan. When you arrange it so you get a tax refund, what you are really doing is giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. C'mon? Do the Feds really deserve it?
•Temptation to charge it. While you're giving the government an interest-free loan, are you taking out pricy loans of your own to make up for it by charging things you need on a high-interest credit card?
•Loss of access. When you receive a tax refund, that's money you DIDN'T have access to during the year, which might make a difference if you have a financial emergency or live paycheck to paycheck.
•Lower credit score. If your finances are so tight that you sometimes pay late, you're hurting your all-important credit score. A lower credit score means higher interest charges on home, car and credit card loans.
•Splurge temptation. If you use your tax refund as a windfall for a wise investment, OK, but many people use the money to splurge on something they really don't need instead.
So this year, when you do your taxes, if you're due for a fat refund, don't celebrate, calibrate. In other words, adjust the withholdings on your W2 form so you won't receive a big refund next year. Here is an IRS calculator that can help you decide the number of withholdings, etc, you should take in order to break even and NOT break the bank.