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Why Getting a Tax Refund Check is Bad


Every year as April 15 approaches, I hear people talking excitedly about what they’re going to do with their big fat tax refund check. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble, but here’s what you should do: adjust your withholding so you don’t receive a refund check.

Why? Because your tax refund is not free money.

It’s your money. It’s money that you already earned at your job. The reason the government has it in the first place is because you gave it to them in what amounts to an interest-free loan. It doesn’t take an accountant to know that handing out interest-free loans is not in your best interest.

I get it. I see the appeal of receiving a check after completing the awful task of filing your taxes. It feels like a reward for the hard work you’ve done. But it’s not a reward. A tax refund is money that was yours to begin with. It’s money that should already be in your bank account.

So if you receive a refund check every year, what should you do? Adjust your withholding. You do that by filing a new W-4 with your employer. The IRS even has a withholding calculator to help you figure out how much to withhold.

The goal is to make it so you and the government are as close to square at the end of the tax season as possible. If you’re doing it right, very little money should change hands between you and Uncle Sam after you file your taxes. Once you adjust your withholding, you’ll see a small increase in each paycheck. That may not be as exciting as getting a big tax refund, but at least you’ll receive your money when you earn it.


Hilariously Bad Parking Jobs

While visiting Paris, my friend and I walked past the tightest parking job we’d ever seen (pictured above). This gave us an idea for a website called “Close-Parked Cars,” where people would send in images of cars parked so close that it made you laugh. Turns out we were already too late–and thinking too small.

The Atlantic has pointed out a Kazakh website called “I Parked Like an Ass,” which boasts page after page of photos of poorly-parked cars. Some are parked too close. Others are parked in even more laugh-out-loud ridiculous places.

The story of I Parked Like an Ass, known in the original Russian as “Я паркуюсь как осел”, begins with a disgruntled driver in the city of Almaty named Roman Slegin. Radio Free Europe reports that Slegin started his website so that regular Kazakhs could publicly document, and thus shame, the atrocious parking habits that he says are common in his country. Users are encouraged to photograph any bad parking they happen upon and then upload their shots to the site.

You can read more about the site, and see more horribly parked cars here.