Don’t Get Your Tax Refund on an Amazon Gift Card

From Lifehacker:

If your tax provider offers to put your tax refund on an Amazon gift card—or any other kind of gift card—say no.

Why? Because putting your tax refund on a gift card means that you’ll spend it on new purchases instead of using the money to pay down debt, build up your emergency fund, or save for the future.

And yes, gift card tax refunds have been a thing for a few years now. As Money.com reports, H&R Block is currently offering a bonus to any taxpayer willing to put their refund towards their next Amazon cart:

As Americans get ready do their taxes ahead of the April 15 deadline, the tax preparer that handles more than 20 million returns each year has a special offer for the do-it-yourself filers who use its software: Opt to get all or part (anywhere from $100 to $9,000) of your federal refund in the form of an Amazon gift card instead of cash, and you’ll receive an additional 4% on the amount you’re due.

In other words, H&R Block will turn that $2,800 into $2,912, as long as you agree to spend the money on…stuff.

Getting an extra 4% added to your tax refund might sound tempting, but remember that you don’t really get to keep the money—you have to give it to Amazon. 

Link to the rest at Lifehacker

PG had no idea this was a thing. Of course, with the help of his accountant, he has not qualified for a refund for several years.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Get Your Tax Refund on an Amazon Gift Card”

  1. Of course, nobody will use that gift card for purchase that they would have made at Amazon anyway, and put more of their income into “smart” places.

    Actually, 4% is not a bad rate at all these days for the small interest-free loan you’ve been giving to the government (more than 4%, actually – but I’m tired and am not going to run the APR on a periodic investment during a year that pays 4% on the total at around fourteen months).

    I’m sure one of my colleagues years ago would have appreciated this deal; he and his new wife ended up buying a lot of things right after they were married. (He would have had a very big refund the next year, as they were married in December, after the plan for a next June wedding was dropped – her Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so…)

  2. As Karen and Writing Observer both imply, the OP’s “say no” answer is just simple minded. The question is whether the 4% is worth making a (short term?) loan to Amazon and this depends on how the money (less the 4%) would otherwise be invested and whether you spend as much on Amazon as Karen appears to do.

    Living in the UK, I don’t get the choice – I fill in our tax returns just after the end of the tax year (6 April) and any refunds drop into our bank account later in the month (though the likely result is a very small refund for me and a notification of the large sums my wife will have to pay in January and July next year). I do get rewards on credit cards though and take these as Amazon gift cards, but this is because I pay for all the Kindle books using gift card balances, helped by Amazon’s automatic gift card balance update system: if I paid for the books by credit card there would be so many small charges on the card that I’d never manage to check the balance!

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