It’s hard to believe that it’s already the most wonderful time of year again – that’s right, it’s tax time!
…Ok, ok, so most of us aren’t too fond of filing our income tax returns. But it’s really not that bad, especially if you follow our advice below.
- File early. It’s simple: the earlier you file, the earlier you’ll receive your return.
- Keep your receipts throughout the year, even for small purchases. You won’t have evidence to claim a deduction if you don’t have a receipt. You’ll be glad you have them in the event of an IRS audit. This applies to receipts for charitable donations as well.
- File your own taxes. Doing it yourself sounds scary, but programs like TurboTax guide you step-by-step through the filing process. It doesn’t take very long, and you won’t have to pay expensive fees to someone else. Still need convincing? Your information will be submitted to the IRS electronically, and that means you’ll receive your refund quicker.
- Still not convinced that you should do it yourself? Many tax preparers are seasonal workers who receive basic training on how to do your taxes. They’ll ask you the same questions that the software you’d use to file your own taxes would ask you. Bottom line: there’s not much of an advantage to hiring someone to do it for you when you can do essentially the same thing yourself at home.
- Check and double-check your math, since many errors often come from miscalculations. Honest taxpayers could end up owing more than expected or not receiving as much as expected simply because of bad math. This is another reason to use electronic software to file – they have built-in calculators. But you still need to make sure you enter the figures correctly.
Even if the IRS catches an error and fixes it for you, your return could be delayed. Be careful and check over everything before submitting.
- Don’t overlook filing taxes for any side jobs or investment income. It’s easy to focus on filing for your main job and forget about other forms of income, but overlooking this could result in penalties from the IRS.
- Put your refund directly into a savings or retirement account before spending it on bills. You can opt to have the money direct-deposited into your account. This is a great way to protect yourself from identity theft, but make sure you enter your account information correctly. After you’ve been dealing with that many numbers, it’s easy to switch a number or two around in your account or routing number. Again – check and double-check to be sure all your information is correct.
None of us actually enjoy filing our taxes, but the process doesn’t have to be quite so bad. And when April rolls around and all your friends are filling out their forms, you’ll be glad you followed our advice and filed early!