With the deadline for filing federal tax returns tonight (Monday) at midnight, some Iowans might already be plotting how to spend their refund checks. Jeff Strawhacker, a certified public accountant in central Iowa, urges his clients -not- to blow the money on something frivolous.

Strawhacker says if you have credit card debt or owe money on a car, this is a perfect time to pay that debt down. He also suggests putting the money in savings as an investment or so you’ll have it for an emergency. Strawhacker says he strives for his clients -not- to get a refund check, but to break even.

If you get a refund every year, Strawhacker says that’s money you’re essentially loaning to the U.S. government tax-free for use all year and you have to wait until tax season to get it back. A recent report found more Iowans use computer software to prepare their taxes but still print the returns out and send them in to the I-R-S via snail-mail. Strawhacker says that doesn’t make much sense, adding, people shouldn’t be afraid to e-file.

His West Des Moines office has been using e-filing for years and he finds it to be very fast and efficient, with refund checks being returned within two or three weeks instead of six to eight weeks. Plus, he says there’s confirmation of receipt by the I-R-S when the return gets there electronically — no waiting and wondering if it got lost in the mail.