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January 31st is just around the corner which means that April 15th is closely approaching too! Whether you view your tax return with fear and loathing or as another Christmas present, you know they have to get done. I am not a CPA and do not claim to have the ultimate knowledge regarding tax returns. I did minor in accounting (so many years ago) which gives me a slight edge compared to the average Joe. I want to share some tips I have learned over the years that will hopefully save you a headache and time too.
Don’t File Early
Employers have until January 31st to mail your W-2 so you may not get it until a week or two later. Some forms are can be mailed as late as February 14th including (but not limited to) your 1099-B, 1099-S, 1099-Misc, and K-1. I know how frustrating this is especially when I get a letter from a broker telling me the forms won’t even be ready by the 31st of January. I get so angry! I am one of the people who usually gets a small return and am happy to have it. It is illegal for a tax professional to file your tax returns without having the actual forms present. If your forms vary from the amounts that you enter into your 1040 then you are likely to get audited.
I know this sounds silly, but you would be amazed at how many times tax professionals have to stop preparing a return midway through due to lack of a form or missing information. Such information includes everyone’s birthdays, correct spelling of name (there are at least 7 ways to spell Mikayla), W-2 and other forms that have been mailed to you, plus any receipts you have accumulated over the year. I have made a checklist that will hopefully aid you in your endeavors.
Set Aside a Block of Time
Do your taxes when you have time. If you are doing your own taxes, like me, that means after the children are in bed and I have no distractions. If you take them to a professional, make sure you have set aside the time required for them. Treat it as any other important appointment, and schedule it into your calendar. If your tax information and just drop everything off to them, still allow for at least 30-minutes or so of face time to ensure they understand all the materials and explain any unusual circumstances or anomalies. Make sure you give them ample time to prepare before April 15th, too (call the professional ahead of time to find out how much that is). If for some reason you are not going to get your taxes finished within the time constraints remember you can file an extension. It is simple, will only take you a few minutes, and save you a giant headache in the future. If you do file an extension then make sure you don’t then forget to file your taxes; the IRS will be looking for you and there is no such thing as a minimal penalty with them.
Hopefully the insight I have shared with you will help you put together a stress free tax return. If you have any additional insights to add to the article we invite you to comment. We like to keep our articles fresh and up to date with the most useful material we can. Thank you for your continued followership and Happy Filing!
P.S. Did you know you can get your tax software from Amazon? Check out our affiliate links at the Sippy Cup aStore.
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