You shouldn't be happy to get a tax refund. You should be mad—at yourself. A refund is nothing more than Uncle Sam returning money you overpaid. The average refund totals about $2,255, or an extra $188 a month you'd have at your disposal if it weren't sitting in federal tax coffers.
Adjust your withholding so that you don't have more deducted from your paycheck than is required (or if you're self-employed, rework the numbers to make sure your estimated quarterly tax payment is correct). Online tools can help you calculate the exact amount; just type "withholding calculator" into a search engine. Try to estimate carefully, and remember that it's okay to owe the IRS a small amount at the end of the year.
Those of you who use the standard deduction when filing tax returns should consider itemizing. A few years ago, the Government Accountability Office found that 2.2 million people who took the standard deduction could have reduced their tax bills by an average of $438 if they had itemized. TurboTax or TaxCut software can do the calculations and determine whether it makes sense to itemize.
Suze Orman is known for her tough, straight-talking advice. Now she's answering your most-asked questions on debt, marriage and money, real estate and financial planning.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.
Grow your life! Get an exclusive look at Oprah's new farm, uncover 28 fresh ideas for happier living, and learn Bob Greene's top secret to eating smarter. Plus, find out how you can win a trip to Hawaii to have lunch with Oprah!