I’m going to guess that I’m not alone when I feel that taxes are unfair. I’m young and need the money. I stimulate the economy with my spending! I’ll never get the Social Security I’m paying, so let me keep some tax money.
Then I stop and think about it. My taxes provide me with my local libraries, from which I borrow audiobooks for free. They pay for the police force and firefighters who keep our society orderly and safe. They keep the postal system running, as inefficient as it may be sometimes. They pay for our teachers and schools, and our city animal shelter. As much as I want to complain about paying my taxes (and accountant), it’s really not that bad. We pay far lower individual taxes in the United States than in Europe. Heck, we can even file our taxes online and pay it with our credit cards!
I was interested to read on MSNBC that more than half of Americans — 54 percent — think their taxes are either fair or very fair in an Associated Press-GfK poll. However, in a question asking whether taxes should be increased to lower the federal deficit, only 29 percent said yes. Just over 60 percent of Americans prefer that government services be cut instead of taxes raised. It’s not a shock that Americans under the age of 30 and over the age of 65 seemed to think that taxes were more fair than workers in their prime earning years. “Surprisingly, there was little difference in the perception of fairness across income levels,” according to MSN.
I just found out that I’m getting an enormous refund this year. Initially I was thrilled, but then I realized that meant I had been overpaying when I could have really used that money each month. But that’s not unusual; MSNBC says that last year, about 87 percent of individual returns got refunds, and those averaged $3,000. These numbers are very close to what they are seeing so far this year. If you have debt, getting a huge refund like this can be a major windfall and help you wipe out a large chunk of debt.
Please read on for my roundup of my favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!
1. Wisebread lists eight wise ways to use your tax refund — the very first being paying off your high-interest debt.
2. When you graduate college and receive gift money, your first inclination is likely to blow it on a trip to Europe or new television. Money Spruce discusses how you can avoid financial mistakes and spend this cash wisely.
3. Lending money to a friend or family member can get messy, so Moneyed Up suggests some other ways you can help a friend who is unemployed.
4. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you’re cutting it pretty close! Free From Broke explains the pros and cons of paying your taxes with a credit card.
5. Stupid Cents offers some easy tips for little ways to save money around the house.
6. Beating Broke explains how you can bounce back from bad credit, which can hinder your ability to get a loan or favorable insurance rate.
7. MoneyNing reveals the top 10 excuses for not saving money, including the excuse that you have too much debt to pay off.
8. Not Made of Money explains why prepaid credit cards are useful, but also points out their downsides.
9. Len Penzo discusses the challenges of raising financially literate children, in addition to a recent experience that made him realize he has accomplished that goal.
10. Frugal Dad causes us to think twice about our spending when he lists 15 things our grandparents lived without.