What to Do with Your Tax Refund or Other “Found Money”

February 26, 2008

Garrett Planning Network Provides Thirteen Smart Ideas

(Lee’s Summit, MO) February 24, 2008 – After concluding their tax preparation activities, many people will see that they are entitled to a refund from Uncle Sam. “Whether you refund is large or small, you are wise to determine now what you will do when that check arrives,” says Sheryl Garrett, CFP®, author of Personal Finance Workbook For Dummies® (Wiley, November 2007) and founder of the Garrett Planning Network (www.GarrettPlanningNetwork.com). “Don’t fritter it away or spend it on a whim.”

On a recent teleconference, network members brainstormed thirteen ways taxpayers can put this “found money” to work:

1. Put the entire amount, up to the maximum allowed by law ($4000 for an individual in 2007 unless you are age 50+, then the maximum contribution is $5000; $5000 for an individual in 2008 unless you are age 50+, then the maximum is $6000), into a Roth IRA assuming your income falls below the government thresholds (the phase out for singles in 2007 is $99-$114,000 and in 2008 it’s $101-116,000; for married couples in 2007, the phase out is $156-166,000 and in 2008, it’s $159-$169,000).

If you are saving for higher education funding needs, withdrawals of regular contributions to a Roth IRA are not subject to tax or penalty and can be made at any time, and you can take a “qualified distribution” (one that is made after a 5 year holding period, beginning on the first day of the first year for which the contributions were made), if one of the following applies: (1) you are a first-time home buyer, (2) you are age 59 1/2 or older (3) the distribution is due to death or disability. If your earned income for 2007 is higher than the phase-out thresholds, put your “found money” into another qualified retirement plan such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan if your employer offers one. Consider contributing to a traditional IRA if you have maxed out contributions to your employer-sponsored plan or if a Roth IRA is not an option.

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Kristine McKinley, CFP®, CPA, is the founding principal of Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

Kristine focuses on providing fee-only financial planning, investment advice, and tax preparation to individuals and families from all income levels.  About Us

In the News

Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.