It’s that wonderful time of year: tax season.
I’m always such a procrastinator when it comes to taxes. I don’t wait until the last minute, but I put it off as long as I can. The first time my husband and I filed taxes together he insisted on going to a tax preparation business out in town. I’ve always done my own taxes so I was quite mad when we finished up and I saw our bill. I’m still annoyed by it so I continue to procrastinate every year.
My husband is adamant that we use a tax preparation company since they offer a guarantee that if something is wrong, they will fix it. Having special military pay and working in tax-free zones for part of the year can all add up to some tax confusion so having the comfort of knowing a professional is doing the paperwork is a bit of a relief.
Recently I discovered that H&R Block has offices on more than 100 military bases offering free tax services. You have options for filing your taxes for free too. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program offers “no-cost tax advice and preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families” and through Military OneSource, you can use H&R Block At Home Online Tax Return Preparation. If you want help, you can go in person or call their help line 24/7 until June or if you want to do it yourself at home you can too. You don’t need to spend money to file your taxes.
However you choose to file your taxes, you have to do it before April 15. Hopefully you’ll be receiving a refund. We can all hope.
Once you file your taxes you still have one big decision left to make, what are you going to do with your tax refund?
There are 5 options of how to wisely reinvent your tax return.
Pay off credit card debt: Take this opportunity to pay off, or at least lower, your credit card debt. If you have student loans, vehicle payments or mortgage payments, you could put your return toward that as well.
Invest in your future: Financial planning, while not very exciting, is important. Meet with a financial adviser and see what types of investments are right for you. Perhaps it’s time to start a Roth IRA if you don’t already have one.
Invest in your children’s future: If you have children and hope they will go to college one day, setting up a college fund now can help offset tuition and other expenses down the road.
Buy a new vehicle: Have you been dreaming of a new car? Your tax refund might give you the additional income desired to put down a significant down payment.
Take a vacation: Everyone needs a little down time. Take some much needed time with your family, or just yourself and get away for a while. While you are vacationing, don’t forget to ask for a military discount at hotels, museums, attractions and restaurants. You can also book a vacation at a military resort if you want to stretch your tax refund dollars a little farther.
No matter how you choose to use your tax refund, do something that will make you happy. While your neighbor is showing off his new shiny car, you might be smiling having invested in your children’s 529 college savings program. It might not be flashy, but it will have a great reward one day when your children head off to college.