Tax time is right around the corner and it will be here way before you realize it. You might just realize that you only have a couple weeks left and haven’t even started to prepare your return. Here are the top 10 tips to helping you file your taxes from year to year.
- Start gathering your records – Keeping your records in one place will help when tax time comes. Now is as good a time to start pulling records together. These documents can include receipts, canceled checks or any other document that supports your claim of an income or deduction.
- Be on the lookout – W-2s and 1099s usually show up around the end of January. The deadline for employers to have them postmarked is January 31st. You’ll need these to file your tax return.
- Try e-file – When you file electronically, the software will handle the math calculations for you. If you use direct deposit, you will get your refund in about half the time it takes when you file a paper return. Filing electronically is now the way the majority of returns are filed, especially if they’re prepared by professional tax preparers. In fact, last year, 2 out of 3 taxpayers used e-file.
- Consider other filing options – There are many different options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a professional tax preparer. The IRS actually offers free face-to-face help at some of their offices, usually with a volunteer accountant. Take the time to become familiar with your options and figure out what suits your needs as well as those of your business.
- Consider Direct Deposit – If you elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you’ll receive it faster than waiting for a paper check. You will also be able to track when your return should be deposited.
- Visit the IRS website – The official IRS Web site is a great place to find everything you’ll need to file your tax return: forms, tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and updates on tax law changes. Not to mention, the IRS website is a free service that can be used to help you file yourself.
- Check out Publication 17 – Publication 17 – “Your Federal Income Tax” is a comprehensive collection of information for taxpayers highlighting everything you’ll need to know when filing your return.
- Double Check Yourself – Don’t rush. Even the most well-trained CPA makes mistakes when he or she is rushed. Not only can mistakes cost you money in the long run, they can also delay your return. Be sure to double-check all the Social Security Numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors when filing by yourself. If you are not good with math, find a suitable software program that works well for you or find someone who will check your math for you.
- Don’t panic! – If you run into a problem, there are always people willing to help. From your friends and family to the IRS, there is someone you can ask to get your questions answered.