Solicitations seem to come with tax refund

DEAR HARRY: I just got my federal tax refund. At the same time, I started to get emails telling me what to do with it. Most of them were solicitations for annuities and life insurance. I just ignored them. Now I'm wondering where these people got the information that I was getting a refund. My tax preparer swore up and down that he did not divulge my information to anyone. He said he'd lose his license if he got caught doing that. Would the IRS reveal who is getting a refund? These things came in my email before I deposited the refund check, so my bank couldn't be involved. What's up, Harry?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: The probability is roughly 50 percent that any taxpayer will get a refund. In a broad mailing, the market is roughly 1 in 2. That's a pretty good shot at reaching the ones you want to hit. If you do a mailing once or twice before and after April 15, you will hit a large number of people who have just gotten a refund check and are hot to do something constructive with it. Here's what I suggest. First help yourself get out of hock. Pay down those high-interest credit-card debts. Knock off a few months of principal on your mortgage. If your debt load is zero on non-mortgage debt, get your IRAs started for 2014. IRAs up to snuff? Start a savings account or add to an existing one. Adjust your withholding for 2014 so you get a smaller refund at year end. It's better for you to have the money as you go rather than at the end of the year. Don't fly into an annuity or whole-life insurance.


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