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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Somebody Has to Do It: In Defense of Tax Refund Stunters

Stunt (v.): To floss or show off one's possessions.

Tax Refund Stunter (n.): One who receives a HEFTY tax refund and spends it frivolously within a few months. See also, tax rich. 

I was once in line at a Walmart Customer Service Center behind a woman who was cashing a $9000 tax refund check. Initially I wondered why she didn't just get direct deposit, but I try to mind my business. She was loudly talking about how she was gonna spend it. None of the things sounded responsible to me. I used my app to check my checking account balance and I didn't have access to that much money. I was also jealous because I had to pay income taxes that year. Before that experience I had no idea people got so much money back as part of their tax refund. 

Every year around the time tax refunds are issued we see an influx of people shopping, taking trips, and getting their lives together. Some people use the money to catch up on bills or save for big purchases like a home, but others use the money to stunt. The "others" get new cars, put rims on the cars they already have and buy their kids ridiculously expensive gifts. The "others" are the Tax Refund Stunters. No need to play the "guess that race" game. We know the people who are the poster children of Income Tax Balling. These people are criticized, hated upon and looked down on because they get a lil "extra" money and seemingly lose their minds. 

Stunters gone stunt.

As a daughter of a single mother who raised 5 kids mostly on her own and still found the resources to take in and take care of extra kids I sympathize with them. I know how hard it can get. Being poor ain't no fun. Still, each year I see my circles divided into 2 groups: (1) Tax Refund Stunters and (2) Those who don't understand them. I realize the popular thing to do is to rank on a TRS, but I am still choosing to defend them. 


WHY THE F*CK DO YOU CARE? Everyone goes in on a Tax Return Stunter because they're an easy target. They're easy to spot. They're frontin. They're flashin for Instagram tryna impress people who wouldn't spit on 'em if they were on fire. We wonder why they don't put the money away for their child's college fund or some responsible sh*t the rest of us claim we'd do with the money. Why do you care how someone else spends their money? 

Admit You're Jealous. Oh I bet you'll stop reading now. Jealous of what? Jealous of who? You get money year round! You make too much money to get a refund! On some level the criticisms come from a place of envy. It's not deep. It's mostly Person A wishing he/she could blow through an "extra" $9k and blow it like Person B. Person A would be responsible and starting thinking about his/her student loans, or mortgage or the tread wearing on his/her tires. You WISH you could be irresponsible with your money just ONCE. On some level Person A is jealous that Person B is not concerned about building savings accounts, or mortgages or paying taxes. Adulting so hard. 

Mind Your Own Money. Worry about your own bills. Worry about your own pockets. Worry about your own money. If you were focused on your own money you wouldn't even have time to think about how other people are spending theirs. 

Tax Return Stunters Spread The Wealth. Ok maybe wealth isn't the right word, but have you ever been around a TRS when they first get their money? They're wiping their asses with $100 bills. Need to borrow some money? They can let you hold something til you get paid. They won't press you as long as you pay it back by Labor Day. Want some new shoes? They'll buy you 2 pair. Whether it's paying up their mom's rent or helping their sister cover unexpected car repairs TRS' typically take care of the people who took care of them throughout the year.

Stop Acting Like You Don't Know Poor People. If you're reading this chances are you probably know someone who has been evicted. You probably know someone with bad credit. You probably know someone who can only make ends meet with help from their parents. You probably know someone who can only buy groceries when they get their food stamps. You probably know someone who gets $20/month for child support. Don't act like you are just so disconnected from what it's like to be poor that you can't understand how poor people act. 

In reality I don't see it as stunting. Many of the Tax Refund Stunters have struggled all year. Have you seen the numbers one needs to meet in order to qualify for a tax refund? Who can really live comfortably off of those numbers? & with offspring? Have you ever been so broke someone offered you one hell of a deal and you still couldn't afford it? Well many of the people deemed Tax Refund Stunters were so broke throughout the year they had to focus on meeting their needs. In some way knowing they would get "extra" money in late January helped them keep holding on. Now they get the chance to go on trips, and they can buy the shoes and purses they couldn't afford even with the Black Friday and Christmas sales. It may seem like stunting to you, but they are buying the things others don't think twice about. What is a $300 bag when you make $85,000 a year and don't have any children? It's nothing. What is a $300 bag when you make $21,000 with 4 kids? That's a game changer. 

Managing money is hard. It is a skill they don't teach us in school. I had to pass Algebra II to get my high school diploma, but I haven't used not nary algebra equation. I've never been anywhere and had to use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve a a real life problem. You gotta let people live and learn. You gotta love people where they are. If you know an tax refund stunter try to see them in a different light. They're doing the best they can with where they are and what they have. It's easy to group "them" and talk about what "they" do as if we know so much better. Truth is we are all trying to figure it out and we need to be more kind to others who are doing the same. Teach the babies.

Do y'all have any Tax Refund Stunter stories? Are you one of them? Chime in if you wanna. 


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