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Big purchases and big problems: common consumer issues when spending that tax return

The following information was discussed by Attorney Whitney Hughes on the May 3, 2011 edition of Legal Briefs on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live Show.

View this Legal Briefs segament on KDKA

The tax returns have been filed, and if you’re lucky enough to have received a refund, many people are using it to either pay off debt (always a good choice) or as a stepping stone toward making a big purchase or investment. Below are some common expenditures for which people use their tax returns, and some potential pitfalls to avoid.

(1) Home improvements

Surveys have shown that a percentage of people will use at least some portion of their tax refund to pay for home improvements. Some helpful hints:

(2) Purchasing a new car

Warmer weather is here as well and we’re hearing from people who are ditching their car after getting through the winter or are buying a car for a young son or daughter who will be graduating and going off to school soon. Again, some helpful tips:

(3) Purchasing real estate

Often receiving a large chunk of money such as a tax refund will allow a person to put additional money toward a down payment on a home or can be just the push toward encouraging someone to invest in a sheriff sale property. Again, some helpful tips:

For a referral to an attorney practicing in a particular field, call the Allegheny County Bar Associatios Lawyer Referral Service at 412-261-5555 or visit their website at