Contribution by: Guest Author
With the tax return deadline steadily approaching, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed at the idea of sitting down to do your taxes. You might be concerned about missing documents or worried about owing additional taxes, but by putting it off, you are only creating a bigger problem. To help prevent some of this tax season stress, follow these seven simple tips to make filing your taxes easier than ever.
1. Keep Organized
Before you start on your taxes, you should take the time to organize all the necessary documents required for filing. If your work space is a mess of paperwork and you are having a hard time finding forms, focus on clearing off your desk. Start using a folder system to keep your office from getting overrun with papers and create a tax time folder for all your eligible receipts and forms. That way, when you sit down to file your return, you don’t have to spend time digging through your filing cabinet for a missing W-2.
2. Use the Right Tax Forms
Depending on your status and employment, you could be required to use additional tax forms to file. While you could go to your local post office or library to get the forms, you will have to know the exact ones required. Instead, use the online IRS catalog to find the correct forms. There you can have the forms mailed to you directly, or you can download them electronically. Using their catalog not only saves you time, but also ensures you are using the correct form for your situation.
3. Research Available Tax Deductions
A few minutes of research can make a big difference, so if you want the most out of your tax refund, you should check to make sure that you are using all available tax deductions. Take the time to research what you are eligible for and can claim this year. If you are self-employed, a homeowner, or living in a high-tax area, consider itemizing your deductions for a maximum refund. This can help you save money on things like your mortgage interest, property taxes, or medical expenses.
4. File Electronically
When you file your tax return electronically, you can get your refund in as little as three weeks. On the other hand, submitting by mail takes two months on average. Plus, when e-filing, you typically get some form of confirmation from the IRS once your return is received.
There is less of a chance of filing your taxes incorrectly since the IRS will automatically check your submission. However, you need to make sure you are choosing the best tax software for your situation. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and pick one without doing research. By taking the time to find the right one, it can save you time and money.
5. Submit Your Tax Return Early
Filing your tax return early will help you avoid the need for an extension or receive a late penalty for missing the deadline. You will also get your refund much sooner than if you file later in the tax season. If you’re worried about owing additional taxes, you can still submit your taxes ahead of time. Then you can pay what you owe before the deadline. Filing your taxes early can also protect you from tax return identity theft. Every year scammers steal Social Security Numbers to use on false tax returns to claim the refund. To protect yourself, always keep your SSN secure and file your taxes early.
6. Direct Deposit Your Refund
If you are expecting to receive a refund from the IRS this year, think about getting it directly deposited into a bank account that you can manage online. That way, you can better budget your tax refund and keep an eye on the account balance through your mobile device. Then you can save your money for a big-ticket item or use it for everyday expenses like gas or groceries. Plus, having your payment directly deposited can help shorten the amount of time it takes to get your refund.
7. Plan Ahead for Next Year
With last year’s taxes filed and behind you, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Your tax-time stress will feel like a distant memory when you start to pile up receipts on your desk. Whereas if you decide to prepare for next year now, you can begin to track your earnings. If you are close to moving into a higher tax bracket at the end of next year, consider contributing more money to your retirement account. You can also plan on making charitable donations for a tax deduction. Just by keeping your taxes in mind throughout the year, you can save yourself the stress of tax season.