UNITED STATES—If you’re like any American citizen who works 1 of 2 things is happening for you right now.  Either you’re in the midst of anticipating that huge refund check or you’re in the midst of having to pay Uncle Sam a hefty tax.  Either way the tax season brings many hassles with it.  For those who are self-employed or perhaps those of us who paid not as much in taxes in 2012 that we thought we did, you may be scrambling with your finances to ensure you have enough cash to pay off your debt to the government.

That’s the one problem with being self-employed, taxes aren’t taken out of your check, so you have more income to do the things that you want, the downfall to that is that you have to be prepared to pay taxes on all the income that you’ve earned.  I try to grapple my head around the celebrities and make millions of dollars each year, yet they fail to pay their taxes.  I just don’t get it.

I’m the average Joe, not making anything close to this Hollywood titans or business icons, yet I pay my taxes religiously, but they aren’t able to set aside funding for the end of the year.  You know its coming!  It happens every year, it rarely changes. To prevent a hefty tax bill that could come at an unexpected time prepare early.

For starters, how about ensuring that you take a percentage of your income (whatever it may be) and put it away each pay period.  Divide what your are expected to pay for city, state and federal taxes, this way when tax season comes around you already have your bases covered and have no need to worry.

On the other hand, there are a lot of Americans who are receiving refund checks from Uncle Sam this season.  Trust receiving a refund check to me is a great thing.  Yeah, I know the pundits say you should always want to break even and take home more of your paycheck during the year, but I see it as a way of having money stashed away for you because of a rainy day.  For years I’ve always received a refund check to a degree.  I never did anything massive in terms of buying a car or taking a lavish vacation, it’s used to pay of debt I’ve accumulated during the year.

The year 2012 was a tough year; between taking over a household, caring for an ill parent and helping siblings not able to manage their bank account, my finances took a beating.  So when I filled my taxes I was happy to get whatever the government owed me.  I hear time and time again, take that refund check and purchase something that you want.

My mind begins to flood with ideas, because let’s face it we are a nation driven by wants.  I’d love to have an iPad Mini or perhaps a glitzy watch, but is that going to make me happy?  Short-term yes, but what about those bills that still have to be paid, or perhaps the chance for me to put some cash away for a rainy day, cause trust me we all have them.

I’m a rationalist, I think before spending. Which explains why so many people hate talking to me, spontaneity comes in spurts, but I think before I act, because once something is done you can’t take it back.  I did need some new shoes, so I didn’t hesitate to take care of that business.  Personal items for the household was next on my list, it’s always good to take care of the things you need compared to the things that you want.  Once all of your needs are secure then you can take the time to think about those wants that you have.

Look at things this way, if you’re getting a refund check this year, its okay to splurge a bit on yourself, but take care of any loose ends first.  You don’t want to blow all of your cash and then have bills that need to be paid because who’s going to bail you out?  For those who get to enjoy more of their income doing the year, its comes with a risk: you still owe the government at the end of the year, so keep tabs on what you may have to fork out.  If you work you have to pay taxes it’s just how the American government works, we all have to due our part to ensure a strong and healthy economy.

By Trevor Roberts