Today is the deadline for filing taxes. Or for filing for an extension. (For information on filing and extensions, see this).
Many of us will get refund checks we’ve been eager to collect. The average Americans get is worth $3,000. It’s always nice to get that money back, however, Nate Silver’s 538 blog tells us that those tax refund checks are actually costing us money.
538 makes a pretty good case that by allowing the government to hold onto that extra tax money (essentially a no-interest loan to the U.S. of A.) instead of investing, we’re costing ourselves significant money. Using that $3,000 average return, 538 found that using that money to pay down the average credit card debt would save consumers $331.
Investing that same amount of money in the S&P 500 would average a return of an additional $239.
From the piece:
Still, as a savings plan goes, waiting for a big tax refund leaves a lot to be desired. It’s pretty much the only way to save that pays no interest, has no chance of a bigger financial gain and doesn’t give you any access to the money if you need it before next tax season.
Obviously the savings are more significant as that return check grows. If your return is a few hundred dollars, it was probably worth avoiding owing the money. No one wants to write another check to the IRS.