Poll: It’s Tax Time – Are You Getting a Refund or Will You Owe?

It’s already Febuary, so most people have received their tax documents by now. There may be a few stragglers, especially from investment companies, but most of us have everything we need to start thinking about taxes. So, if you’ve started to compile your information, what’s this year look like for you? Are you going to get a nice sized refund this year, or are you stuck writing a check to the IRS?

While I haven’t sat down and fully done my taxes yet, each year I like to plug my estimated numbers into this TurboTax Free Online Estimator. It lets you plug in some of your basic income and deduction numbers to give you a ballpark estimate of what you might owe or get back as a refund. Unfortunately, I put in our numbers and was not happy with the results.

It looks like we’re going to owe yet again. It really stinks because last year my wife and I both changed our W-4 exemptions to zero, and set up quarterly estimated taxes. Based on what I thought was a pretty good estimate, I figured the estimated payments would have put us pretty close to breaking even, or giving us a small refund. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. The tax code sure isn’t very friendly to dual income households with no kids, plus self-employment income, and a mortgage so small the interest doesn’t even meet the standard deduction amount. Thankfully, we have a child on the way so our 2009 taxes will get a little better.

But what about you? Expecting a refund, or will you owe? If you’re getting a refund, will you be stimulating the economy and spend it on something, or does it go right into a savings or retirement account?

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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.

15 comments
Frugal for life
Frugal for life

I haven't started taxes yet, first I need to find out if I made less than 56k to get the free tax filing option.

Shadox
Shadox

We haven't started with the taxes - still waiting for the investment 1099s to get here, but we're probably going to own money. We never seem to get our withholding right...

Velvet Jones
Velvet Jones

I got a $155 refund from the fed, but owed the state $11. :::shrugs:::

Foobarista
Foobarista

We're unfortunately getting a refund. I say "unfortunately" because a partnership we're in cratered and we'll be getting a bunch of (active & cap gains) losses from it in our 2008 and 2009 tax years.

My wife is self employed, and we always withhold enough money from my paycheck to hit the "safe harbor" each year and pay the difference out of a tax set-aside bank account. But the losses mean we massively overshot our withholding for 08 and will get our first refund in many years.

thomas
thomas

I owe but am getting the homebuyer "credit" so I will be getting some money.

Jimmy @ Wealth Is Boring
Jimmy @ Wealth Is Boring

This is actually the first year that I owe, but it's only to the tune of about $150. I anticipated a much larger bill, so I'm kind of looking at it as a refund and will be using the excess savings to pay down my vehicle loan.

Zyzzyx
Zyzzyx

Did most of the taxes last weekend, was waiting for one more 1098 form, should be submitting this weekend. Darn close to breaking even, getting just $180 back. Just the way I like it. For the last 6-7 years I've been within $300 either way, works just fine.

Webomatica
Webomatica

We owe federal but are due a state (CA) refund for approximately the same amount. *But* the annoying wrinkle is California's budget problems which means tax refunds are being delayed. Therefore, although I have the taxes pretty much done I am reluctant to file until late March. Darned governator...

Rob
Rob

Haven't started filling in tax forms yet - I think some tax docs from our banks / 401(k) will be coming in late this year.

Matt @ StupidCents
Matt @ StupidCents

Just got married last year, so this will be the first time we'll be filing jointly. We both have upped our withholdings based on our past individual returns.

I'm surprised at our preliminary numbers; our return will be pretty substantial. Still waiting for a few more forms, but I think it's safe to say we'll be getting a refund.

Ken
Ken

Already filed. Getting like 2100 back. Likely next week.

Miranda
Miranda

I've been paying quarterly, since I'm self-employed. We made a little more this year, but I also had my husband increase his withholdings. So we did it about right -- breaking even.

MKL
MKL

We're getting a federal and state refund. This is where being a sole wage earner for a family of five does have its benefits :). There are of course other things that work into this equation as well:

- 10% tithing for gross income equals a nice tax writeoff.
- 9% into my company's 401k helps write down a bit as well.
- Property taxes for a house in the San Francisco Bay area equals a nice writeoff
- Using the FSA and HSA accounts accounted for a few thousand dollars write off.
- Letting go of a lot of things to charitable organizations (A surprising amount and thank you Its Deductible for helping me keep track :) )
- With three children under 10, we get a $3000 child tax credit

Interestingly, I thought for sure that, since we paid off our house last year, we would be owing since we didn't have that mortgage interest payment deduction this year (which in previous years was by far our biggest deduction), but still we ended up getting money back.

I do agree, families with two incomes and no kids get stung hard at tax time.

Michael
Michael

I am not paying taxes so that I can be eligible for the Obama Administration.

Chuck
Chuck

From my preliminary numbers, we are going to owe. My wife worked as an independent contractor for the first few months of the year. Since we didn't pay taxes on that at the time, we are going to have to pay up now.

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