ACCC Offers Advice on How to Best Utilize Your Tax Return
The national nonprofit provides guidance for Americans who want to make the most of their tax refund this year.
(Boston, MA) – April 3, 2014 — With April 15th right around the corner and many Americans expecting a tax refund, American Consumer Credit Counseling offers advice on things to consider while your tax filing is processed by the government.
The amount of time between filing taxes and receiving a return depends on the filing method. Paper filing can take up to 6-8 weeks, especially if you file on the April 15th deadline. Alternatively, E-filing can take up to 21 days and allows users to check the status of their refund online by visiting www.irs.gov and submitting their social security number, filing status, and refund amount.
“Regardless of how Americans plan to file this year, we encourage consumers to take advantage of the time between filing taxes and receiving their refund,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “This time period provides the perfect opportunity to plan ahead, think about how to spend your refund, and work towards financial stability.”
The tax season began over six weeks ago and the IRS has paid out more than 48 million refunds, totaling $147 billion. Between January 31 and February 28, those Americans who received a refund earned $3,034 on average back from the IRS, marking a 3 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
For those consumers who still need to file their taxes, or for those who are waiting for their taxes to be processed, there are considerations to make while anticipating a tax refund.
- Review outstanding expenses such as unpaid bills and prioritize them. Of those Americans expecting a refund, 21 percent will use it to pay off outstanding debt according to a recent TD Ameritrade survey. For example, if you are behind on rent or mortgage payments, these should be the first priority you address. Next, list utilities and any expenses that may cause a disruption in service or that may jeopardize your livelihood, such as car expenses that would keep you from getting to and from work. While all of your debt obligations are important, consider the consequences of default and weigh those against your priority list.
- Caught up on all of your monthly bills? Use this refund as a stepping stone for future goals. 61 percent of consumers receiving a refund plan to save or invest the money, especially those members of Generation Y with 67 percent planning to sock away their refund. Start a savings account, pay down some of your outstanding credit cards, contribute to a 401k, or pay off a few of your future monthly expenses like car insurance or child care payments. Additionally, it may be in your best interest to use the refund to set up an emergency account. Whatever option you choose, make sure it supports your future goals and needs. This is an opportunity to get ahead and set your priorities for the remainder of the year.
- Use this time to look at your W-2 status and ensure you are maximizing refund opportunities. This is especially important if you end up having to pay taxes or your tax refund is declining. Job and salary changes can impact your deductions and if any of these have occurred, this is a chance to review and make adjustments.
“Tax refunds provide consumers with an opportunity to take a step in the right direction and should be used to maximize their financial positioning,” said Trumble. “Whether you ultimately choose to pay down debt or save for the future, a little consideration will serve you well in the long run. Additionally, consumers can always seek the help of experienced professionals to receive financial counseling and advice.”
ACCC’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling, and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability. These financial education programs enable consumers to better understand and manage their finances.
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.