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Kiplinger: Smart Year-End Tax Moves for 2012

2. Safeguard Your Refund (By Shrinking It)

When you file your tax return each year, the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck or submitted through estimated quarterly tax payments ideally should match the amount of tax you owe. In reality, that seldom happens.

The majority of Americans are addicted to refunds. More than 75% of U.S. taxpayers give Uncle Sam an interest-free loan year after year, with an average refund of about $3,000 -- that's $250 per month. Wouldn't you rather get your money when you earn it instead of waiting a year for a refund? What’s more, that fat refund represents a security risk -- identity thieves have been filing fraudulent returns and stealing the refund.

There's an easy fix. Just file a revised Form W-4 with your employer. The more "allowances" you claim on the W-4, the less tax will be withheld.

If your current financial situation is similar to last year's, just use our Tax Withholding Calculator. Answer three simple questions (you'll find the answers on your 2011 tax return), and we'll estimate how many additional allowances you deserve -- and how much your take-home pay could rise.

However, this tool won't be much help if your tax situation has changed since last year because, for example, you got married, had a baby or switched jobs. In that case, you might want to give the more-complicated IRS online withholding calculator a whirl.

(iStock)

More From Kiplinger:
The Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
Delayed Refunds in 2013? Adjust Your Withholding NOW!
QUIZ: Is It Deductible?



The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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