How Will You Use Your Tax Refund This Year?

By Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

A tax refund can feel like found money, even though it’s actually yours. We asked small business owners around the country to share their thoughts on how they’ll spend their tax refunds this year. Here’s what they said.

“I will use our tax refund to invest in good workers. We don’t use recruiters. Rather, we network with our acquaintances and post jobs on LinkedIn, usually offering a referral fee for a good hire. I believe in investing spare capital in hiring the best people with the best work ethic and attitude and with particular skills that no one else at the company has. By carefully looking at our company's aggregate strengths and analyzing whether there are any skill gaps from within, I’ll find outstanding employees with qualifications and skills that are currently missing from our organization and that will help propel us forward by leaps and bounds. It’s important to invest in recruiting because good people make all the difference between success and failure in business.”


— Ian Aronovich, co-founder and CEO,®, Great Neck, NY A site that provides information about government auctions of foreclosures and seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country.

“Last year, my tax refund paid for a trip to a pet-blogging conference. This year, I’ll invest in working with a professional web designer to update my web design to the Genesis framework, and I can't wait. I believe that a good website is extremely important for my particular business, because it’s 99 percent online. I manage a website that shares tips on raw feeding, dog supplements and raising littermates, and my audience finds me by Googling information on these topics. I find that the more information I produce that answers a question, the faster my business grows. If I didn’t have a quality, professional website, my credibility may be called into question. The balance of the money will be used to pay for a sales page program for my site and for design services work for eBook covers, business cards and social media platforms.”


— Kimberly Gauthier, dog nutrition blogger, Keep the Tail Wagging, Seattle A consultant who advises dog owners

“Any small business refund we get automatically is set aside as retained earnings and used to invest back into the business. We want to be building assets, not just paying expenses. Currently, we are building our client retention system, trying to increase our yearly ‘contact points’ with past clients from six to 12. These include offline mailers like holiday cards, anniversary cards and newsletters. When I represent a great dad or mom in a difficult divorce, I'll tag them to make sure we give him or her something thoughtful on Father's or Mother's Day. We also send them net promoter score surveys at regular intervals to make sure we’re providing value. Your competitors are reinvesting in their businesses, and even if they were not, new competitors come along every day with stronger products, leaner budgets and better tools. Whether you make a good or sell a service, you must continually invest in your offering to keep it from growing stale.”

— Christian Denmon, founding partner, Denmon & Denmon, Tampa, FL A personal injury, divorce and criminal defense law firm 

?“I would suggest that if a proprietary business is getting a tax refund greater than a few hundred dollars, they should visit their accountant or bookkeeper to better estimate payments in the future. A small business owner or even a large business owner for that matter should strive for little or no refund and a manageable payment schedule. The amount of money that gets refunded is basically an interest-free loan an overpayment — to our government. If you didn't loan or overpay the government this money, where else could you have spent it to improve your business or invest it to earn interest income? There are better ways to use that extra money.”


— Alex Taylor, associate director, Executive Education and Executive MBA Programs, University of Iowa, Iowa City

“Right now I’m in the process of expanding my business and opening my own art gallery in downtown Tucson. I’ve had a lot of expenses just to get the doors open. The tax refund would provide for some additional advertising opportunities, added supplies, and inventory and would cover additional expenses. I’m always looking at ways I can invest in my business — to build new relationships, increase my customer base and experiment with new materials. That requires finding new advertising vehicles to connect to new customers, forging relationships with new galleries and creating new work. While I try to build all this into my business plan, having a tax refund to re-invest makes these things easier to manage. If I didn’t spend the refund on the business, it would be either on a trip or something for my home. Inspiration for my work comes from my experiences, from the Sonoran Desert I am surrounded by, and from traveling and experiencing different cultures and landscapes. And adding an element of comfort to my home provides an opportunity to recharge my batteries so to speak and make me ready and eager to face the next day.”

Jeff Ferst, abstract artist and owner of Artful Living by Jeff Ferst, Tucson, AZ A fine arts maker and designer of clothing and home décor items

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