So if you are like most of the three hundred eleven million, nine

hundred twenty-five thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine Americans

you are most likely looking forward to receiving your tax refund check

so that you can pay down some debt, take a vacation, or buy that

really nice ________ (fill in the blank). With the economy still in

limbo it is imperative that you find a balance between what you spend

and want you save. Most importantly you must find ways to get more out

of your refund as well as keep more of it in your pocket. The

following are tips that will help you maximize your 2010 tax refund as

well as a give you ways to stretch it next year.

1) No Tax Anticipation Loans: Tax preparers know that most people are

desperately awaiting their refunds so they are quick to sell you a

“rapid refund” or “tax anticipation loan” DON’T DO IT!! What they

don’t tell you is that you are going to be paying anywhere from 50% to

500% interest on this loan. Additionally they are only speeding up

your refund by maybe a week or two so having patience will put more

money in your pocket.

2) Prepare & File for Free: Why pay someone to do your taxes when you

can have it done for free? There are many programs and organizations

that provide FREE tax filing if you qualify. VITA (Volunteer Income

Tax Assistance) is an example of an IRS-sponsored program. Make sure

that you are checking with your local organizations and the IRS to see

if you meet the guidelines. Also you can file your taxes online with

the IRS without charge. Take full advantage of these options and put

the extra money to good use.

3) Take advantage of tax credits: The IRS has allocated certain tax

credit to assist those in need with coping with everyday life. Make

sure you are taking full advantage of them if you qualify.

• Earned Income Credit (EIC) – The EIC is designed for low-income

taxpayers and provides a maximum credit of $5,666

• Child Tax Credit – Allows you to receive a credit of up to $1,000

for each child you claim up to age 17. You have to earn at least

$3,000 in taxable income in order to qualify.

• Child and Dependent Tax Credit – This credit is offered via state

and federal government and allows you to claim a portion of your child

care costs.

• Education Tax Credits (The American Opportunity Tax Credit) – Gives

a credit of up to $2,500 for students who are in the first four years

of college. The credit is to be used for tuition, books, and other

educational material. You must meet certain income requirements.

4) Invest your money wisely: Most people look at their tax refunds as

a lump sum of money that is extra to what they make. So it shouldn’t

matter what they spend it on right? … WRONG!! Getting a tax refund

simply means that you paid the IRS too much money! It means that this

is your money that they are giving you back! With that said don’t

throw your money away by spending it on frivolous things. Try spending

your money on ASSETS that appreciate so that you can see some type of

growth on your money. Some examples include IRA contributions, down

payment for a home, Rental Property, Network Marketing startup fee,

etc.

5) Pay off Highest Interest Debt first: If you are going to use your

refund to pay down debt make sure you are paying off the debt that has

the highest interest first. For example if you have a $10,000 card at

21% interest and a $2,000 card at 5% interest with a refund of $3,000

you should pay down the $10,000 card because the interest is higher.

That is a savings of 16%

6) Adjust your withholdings: Last but not least… Stop giving the IRS

an interest free loan. Like I stated previously if you are receiving a

tax refund that means that you are paying the IRS too much money.

While most people think that getting a tax refund is a good thing most

financial experts including myself will tell you that you should

adjust your withholdings so that you receive more money in your

paycheck during the year which gives you the opportunity to save more.

Caution: This concept only works if you discipline yourself to save!

Again, tax money is not free money! It is money that you worked hard

for so make sure you are being smart and doing what needs to be done

to keep most of your money in your pocket!

Ash’Cash is a Business Consultant, Motivational Speaker, Financial

Expert and the author of Mind Right, Money Right: 10 Laws of Financial

Freedom. For more information, please visit his website,

www.iamashcash.com.