The Internal Revenue Service began processing income tax returns at the end of January, and some people may get substantial tax refunds.
As far as financial adviser Tom Kimbrel of Marion is concerned, people receiving refunds should prioritize debt and savings. Kimbrel said people’s top priority should be paying off high-interest debts like credit cards.
“Get rid of debt,” he said.
Not all debt is equal, though.
“I’m not talking about house debt,” Kimbrel said. “It doesn’t hurt to have some debt.”
If someone gets a tax refund and has no high-interest debt, Kimbrel then recommends prioritizing retirement savings. He said a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is the best option for many people.
Money put into a Roth IRA isn’t tax deductible, but once it is in, any earnings are tax-free if the account holder waits at least five years and until after they are 59½ years old to withdraw from the account.
By comparison, contributions to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible, but the earnings are not tax free. The reason Kimbrel recommends a Roth IRA for most people is because few can contribute enough to a traditional IRA to receive the full benefit of the tax deduction.
Kimbrel added that people should try to start saving for retirement at as young an age as possible.
“If a person is young and does not have debt, they can really gather a bunch of money in an IRA,” he said.
That takes discipline and commitment, though, he said.