Taxmas is the wonderful celebration that happens when our income tax refund hits our bank account. We named it this one particularly bad year when we had just finished holidays and birthdays without being able to give children even the tiniest gifts and promised them we would make up for it when we got our tax refund back. We are currently celebrating this blessed event. This post is brought to you by Taxmas, which is being typed on my new laptop.

Last time I mentioned Taxmas, some people were surprised when I said there are people who judge how low income people spend their tax returns like some cart judge food stamp purchases. Among the money-management/frugality type lifestyle blogs, there is a range of this. Most are polite and the intention is to be helpful but there’s a tone of, “I am telling you all these common sense tips because poor people are foolish and don’t know what to do with money.”.They are mistaking poverty with mismanagement of money. Poverty is not the mismanagement of money. Poverty is simply the lack of money.

On the other end of the range are people who are less polite and come out and say it. This is less common with actual bloggers and just tend to be ignorant people with access to social media. Among those types, they think the Earned Income Tax Credit should be done away with so low income families don’t get as much money back and my favorite – that low income workers who receive food stamps should have their refund taken back by the government to pay back whatever they received.

Let me take a quick minute to talk about these people. They fascinate me. They claim to be able to stand in Walmart and know whether or not the people buying the big TV are 1) poor and 2)using tax refund money to buy “stupid things”. They have magical powers most don’t have. They can tell someone socio-economic status with one glance AND know the source of their funds when they spend money. Fascinating. 

I could never claim to represent all low income working families who get a large tax refund thanks to EITC but I am fairly confident my individual experience isn’t that different. We spend a lot of the year struggling to pay bare minimum expenses, not even really making it paycheck to paycheck at all. Bills don’t get paid because there isn’t money to pay them. Sometimes there’s no money for groceries and we have to rely on food pantries, both with and without food stamps. when we need to buy clothes or other things we need, even second hand is too expensive. We can’t even afford the things we need, let alone really simple things that are considered wants. So, when it’s Taxmas, we spend money. We spend money on things we need that we’ve gone without and things we want because we can never buy things we want. We pay bills. We catch up on rent. We stop the electricity from being shut off. We stock up on things we know we will need later in the year when there might not be the money to spend.

Taxmas makes such a huge difference in our lives. Last summer when we had to move, we might have been homeless if we didn’t have tax refund money in our saving account. We wouldn’t have been able to buy a car  (after having been without one for nearly 14 years) which would have made moving to a less expensive area that much more difficult(and at the lowest point,I was grateful we had a car because if we did find ourselves homeless, we’d at least have the car). If we hadn’t had to move, we would still have had that money in our savings and the end of 2015 wouldn’t have been so dismal.

And yes…”we” (poor folks) might buy a really big TV or other electronics. Have you ever broken down the cost of a TV to see what that amount is per week? It’s affordable entertainment. Trying to control whether or not poor people can spend their money on technology isn’t a new thing . In the 60’s, poor people living in housing projects weren’t allowed to have a TV. Didn’t matter if they found it alongside the road for free or it was a gift or they bought it themselves. They weren’t allowed. TV was a  great equalizer among race and class.It’s more than purely entertainment. TV was a resource for information. Keeping people low information was a huge part of that ban.  Now we rely even more on better technology and the people who benefit the most from having tech are poor people.

I spend my tax refund on new technology every year and I have zero apologies. My children are being raised in a low income family and technology betters their chances to make it out of poverty. My children are worth investing in. I’m worth investing in. I won’t ever feel guilty or be shamed for this.





14 thoughts on “Taxmas

  1. Happy Taxmas! My “splurge” is sports for my two boys both with ADD and one with a mood disorder. I sometimes worry about others judging me for spending the money for two on two sports (baseball & soccer). Honestly, it is a huge boost for all of us while they are playing. They get to interact with positive male figures (no dad around) as well as building their self esteem. Sometimes my heart just about bursts from pride. This year I will be using my money to find us a place to live which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible given the high rent. I appreciate your blog and you for writing it!

    1. I think that’s a wonderful expenditure! ❤

      My ADHD kid spent what we gave him on legos and I thought at first that it was ridiculous to spend so much on "toys" but then I read all these studies about legos & ADD/ADHD. No regrets 🙂

  2. I seem to be signed in on WordPress. I guess if I stay signed in, this can work.

    You give an excellent overview of “Taxmas” and of how larger chunks of money affect poor people in general. A friend of mine lost her house over unpaid taxes recently. After the sheriff’s sale, she received a sum of money that helped. Someone close to her who has always been middle class told my friend in all sincerity she “had” to save it for her old age. The notion of becoming homeless went completely over the middle class person’s head. Needless to say, my friend is using the money for housing and other necessities. She’s poor, and new to much of this, but she’s not stupid.

  3. Hello Jupiter,

    Thank you for speaking the truth. you and your family are worth investing in and may you enjoy TAxmas this year.

    These people don’t get what it’ like.I’m glad your savings account could help you move and get transportation. sl


  4. Tamas this year was $4500. I put $3000 of it on credit cards, and added the $1500 to my savings account. My credit went up so much from paying off those cards that I got preapproved for a very modest mortgage.

    That’s right, this single mom with two kids making $22,000 a year is gonna OWN A FREAKING HOUSE thanks to Taxmas.

    Thanks be to the gods; old and new :-p

  5. The judgements and preconceptions about low income people are inexcusable. I went through a multi-year period in my life of being very poor. I would not have wanted to be poor my whole life, but a good, firsthand dose of poverty I think is constructive for everyone to experience. I have a brother who has gradually become wealthy, and it’s been fascinating to observe how his and his wife’s ‘world view’ has evolved during the transition. My brother seem to think that poverty invariably means you’re not willing to work, and their chief (sometimes I think only) concern in life is how much tax they have to pay. Sad.

  6. Love the message here. The tax refund is definitely unique: it’s a lump sum of money all at once. Many households don’t see that kind of cash all at once all year. In true laissez faire fashion, I think people know best how to spend that kind of once-a-year influction of cash.

    Merry Taxmas, everyone.

  7. The only reason I wouldn’t approve of spending a tax refund on a TV is because I don’t think it’s something anyone needs, and I personally would never own one. It’s not just the upfront cost, it’s the monthly bills, the wasted time and the fact that most of what’s on TV is also available online for free or cheaper. I think a computer is a much better use of funds because it has so many more purposes, and think of how many books one could buy with a big tax refund. That being said, I don’t really care to judge how people spend their money and it makes no difference to me if a poor person chooses to spend it on a big want they may have thought about for a while, or a more “useful” thing like rent or savings, just like I wouldn’t judge a rich person for buying extravagant useless things either.

    1. See, we don’t get cable. We use online streaming connected with a cable from the computer to the TV so everyone can watch comfortably and also have a blu-ray player we bought years ago that plays movies we get from the library and has free streaming services. We watch quite a bit of TV (and I’ve been finding that having TV on while I’m working is a good ADHD-coping tool for me. I also use music and podcasts the same way) but we’re also a houseful of voracious readers. Our book collection was quite a problem when we moved LOL. We don’t really spend a lot of money on books usually. We get them at yard sales and books sales, freecycle,swaps,etc but you’ll be happy to know I used some of our taxmas money to buy books we felt belonged in our forever-collection. 🙂

      1. I’m glad to hear that you love to read, I get lots of books free from the library or super cheap at yard sales and such too. I can never justify paying 30 bucks for a new hardcover when there are so many other options, although some new books are hard to get. It’s always been a problem moving books for me too, they’re so heavy! That’s a smart way of watching TV as well, and I guess with a family it wouldn’t be so practical to watch on a laptop like I do.

  8. Ah, tis the season. Our “Taxmas” this year has been spent on mainly my student loans, paying off one credit account, putting money into our “bills” account, and the rest dumped into our wedding fund. Our splurge was keeping some in our personal accounts for some “spend however I want later” money. Woo. But in the past I have spent it on things I couldn’t normally buy. But I hear ya, unless im paying you to do so, or we are sharing bills, no need to money police and judge. We all make our own decisions about our resources and have to live with those choices.

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