How to make this a tax season to remember (in a good way) if you're due to receive a refund:
Bottom Line: Rather than speaking about the raping and pillaging of many that is the net result of our federal tax code (collecting a top rate of 39.6%) - I want to focus on the result for those who will receive a refund this tax season. The estimation is that 75%-80% of tax filers will receive a refund and the average refund will be $2840. The first important note is that a tax refund often isn't something that's worth celebrating. It's represents an interest free loan that you provided to the federal government. You'd be far better off having a balance of zero, as compared to a refund of nearly $3000 but what's done is done for 2016 (perhaps you should review your withholding levels if you do consistently receive refunds) and I want to focus on a sound financial decision going forward.
Let's say that you were to invest that $2840 rather than spend it. If you're 45 and invest that money in the S&P 500, for example, with an annual 10% rate of return - that would be worth $23,118 - in 22 years when you're looking towards retirement. Now let's say that we were to invest $2840 per year every year for the next 22 years as previously described. That's suddenly $246,180.
This is food for thought as you're filing your taxes for this year and making plans going forward. Simple, sound, decisions with a little discipline can have profound impact over the longer term. This is just one of a myriad of "hacks" to set you up for financial success and make you think about the opportunity cost of spending vs. investing.