After the holiday season comes to a close, the real adult holiday rolls around: Tax Refund Season. Tax return franchises have opened their doors, some equipped with air dancing balloons and people dressed in costumes flood the streets promoting everything from same-day refund and cash when you file, to options of filing with your last pay stub. With so many people cash-strapped from keeping up with the Joneses on Christmas and balling out for the New Year, cash on the spot seems very attractive, but before you fall into the illusion of free fast money, take a look at how much your tax refund is really costing you.
Who's Preparing Your Returns?Giphy
If you are one of the people who are lucky enough to receive a refund, then you are most likely not concerned on how or why the refund was issued. If you are in the majority of middle class people who make too much to take advantage of many of the tax credits and end up owing the IRS, you are most likely interested in how to minimize your tax liability going forward. For the people in the second category, big chain tax return preparation companies are not much help to you.
If you fall into the first category, these preparation centers, which are primarily in lower income neighborhoods, advertise products that are not financially responsible for most taxpayers. Refund cash advances can come with fees of up to 18% taken from your refund and they are not always transparent about these costs upfront. They also rarely offer guidance on what tax-saving strategies and tips are available to you. The tax return preparation fee is not revealed until after you have completed your return with a representative and you can feel pressured to file with them since they already have done the work. More importantly, many are only open for the tax season, which is until April 15th, so that audit letter you received from the IRS in June…good luck finding your tax preparer to help you craft a response.
Can Receiving A Smaller Refund Be Better For You?Giphy
I know you're wondering how can a smaller refund be a better option? But in some cases, it may be. First, you have to determine if your refund is due to an overpayment of taxes during the course of the year or because of tax credits/deductions that affect the amount of taxes you owe. If you are withholding more money than necessary, that is money that the government holds all year, interest-free.
Let's say you file your taxes for 2018 and discover that you withheld $1,000 more dollars than you owed, which is approximately $83 a month, and you invested that $83 each month and it earned 5% compound interest monthly. You would have $1,048 at the end of the year as opposed to the $1,000 the IRS refunded you. Of course, your refund would then be smaller but you would have more money overall. Although it can sometimes be hard to see the big picture, these amounts can add up quickly.
Why An Accountant Is A Better SolutionGiphy
Finding an accountant that is professional and whom you can trust is really the key to maximizing tax season. While the tax preparers employed at franchises are licensed, they typically do not have the same wealth of tax knowledge as a professional tax preparer or accountant. These are people who can give you specific guidance to your tax situation and if you stick with the same person for a number of years, they can be instrumental in helping you use tax planning to reach your other financial goals.
While it may be a few extra bucks up front to hire a private tax or accountant professional, knowing that you are not leaving any money on the table is worth the peace of mind.
6 Things To Do With Your Tax Refund – Read More
The Best Way To Budget For Taxes When You Are Self-Employed – Read More
Venus Williams Wants Us To Know Our Worth And Add Tax – Read More
Featured image by Getty Images.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images