Give me a percentage of your money, and next year I will give it back to you. It does not matter to me how much you send, or how you send it. My promise is that by April 15, 2008 you will have a nice check in your hand of your very own money. That is exactly what the state and federal governments do every year to your money. Whenever you earn a wage, unless you work under the table, part of your money is taken away from you before it ever reaches your hands. In order to get an income tax refund, the sum of your refundable tax credits and your withholdings that you paid have to be less than the taxes you owe. I am not fuming over the fact that as an American I have to pay taxes. I gladly pay my taxes having confidence that the government will put the funds to good us for the betterment of the country. What does bother me is that they get an interest-free loan from me every year. My garnished wages go to the state and federal banks to sit all year and earn interest, but I do not get that interest earned back. If it were truly a refund would we not get our interest back as well? Some people like to look at their tax refund as a way to save money. The income is put aside for them until a later time, and then when the get it back they can use that money for whatever they have planned to use it for. However, a more practical way of saving money I might suggest to those who see it as a way to save is that you match your garnished wages and put them in a savings account or even in a high interest money market account. You will then actually be making money from the interest, instead of just setting it aside until next spring. Income tax returns are, in reality, another way for the government to get a little bit more money from the taxpayers. The government is not the only one making money off of income tax refunds. Search “income tax refund” on Google and it will bring up 10 different tax filing companies, each wanting to get their piece of the revenue. This year before you file your taxes research the various places you can file and their costs. Many companies have different packages to select from according to cost and how in-depth you want the software to dig for your deductions. If you are not careful you could end up paying a lot of money just to get a little back; all of which was yours to begin with anyways. Free File, at www.irs.gov, allows taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $52,000 or less in 2006 to e-file their federal tax returns for free. Most college students should qualify for this free e-filing program, and take full advantage of it. I unfortunately did not look around before filing this year and ended up paying TurboTax $55.90 for both federal and state taxes combined. I felt like I had been ripped off even more when I gave them my debit card number, than I did before I filed. It is also important to know what can be counted as a tax deductible. Deductible educational expenses include amounts spent for tuition, books, supplies, laboratory fees, and similar items. They also include the cost of correspondence courses, as well as formal training and research you do as part of an educational program. Your transportation and travel expenses to attend qualified educational activities may also be deductible. The maximum deductible interest on a qualified student loan is $2,500 per return. For those whose filing status is single the full $2,500 deduction is allowed for a modified adjusted gross income equal to or below $50,000. By now most W2’s should have been received and April 15 is quickly approaching. Before you get that sinking feeling that the government and tax return companies are anacondas around your neck trying to squeeze you for all you have, shop around for the best way to get your money back. Oh, and please do not forget to send me your money, too. I promise you will get it back next spring, but I am going to keep the interest.