It’s that time of year again…tax season! And our team is here to walk you through the steps that you should take to properly plan your tax filing process. These tips are designed to create a smooth, seamless process that will help you to avoid costly errors and submit your taxes with confidence.
Step 1: Gather Your Essential Forms
You will likely start to receive the forms you need this month that are required to complete your tax return. This is the time to take inventory and make a list of anything that could affect or maximize your tax return. Once you have received all of your documents, review them to be sure that they are accurate. If there are any discrepancies, you will want to contact the sender and get them corrected ahead of filing your taxes. Be aware that even a simple misspelling could cause delays or complications with your tax return so inspect your documents carefully!
Forms that you should expect include:
- W-2s from your place(s) of work
- 1095-A if you have government marketplace health coverage
- 1099s for additional income, interest, gains and losses
- 1098 for reporting interest and tuition payments
- W-2Gs for any gambling winnings
- Schedule K-1s for company ownership
Step 2: Collect Your Receipts
You will need to account for your expenses if you plan on itemizing your deductions or if you own a business; this will allow you to take full advantage of any write-offs that you may be eligible for.
These receipts may include medical expenses, business expenses or any other expenses that could be listed on your Schedule A or Schedule C. You can include physical receipts or even bank or credit card statements that reflect your payments for these items. After you have collected these, be sure to organize them according to their category so that it will be easy for you to calculate them when you begin filing your taxes.
Step 3: Account for Your Charitable Donations
If you have made donations or charitable contributions throughout the year, you will want to account for these expenses. These donations can provide you with a tax write-off opportunity that you will want to fully utilize. In the past, these donations could only be counted for filers who itemized their deductions. However, with the reinstatement of the CARES Act, tax filers who have decided to use a standardized deduction are also able to write-off up to $300 in charitable donations. Most organizations, like churches and fundraisers, are able to provide you with the donation receipts you will need.
Step 4: Create a List of Your Personal Information
This is an essential step! Be sure to gather social security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents you plan to claim. Making this information easy to access will help you to have an easy, stress-free tax filing experience. Be sure to also gather the addresses for any properties you own as well as the dates that they were purchased or sold.
Step 5: Obtain a Copy of Last Year’s Tax Return
Your previous tax return should already be on file with your previous tax preparer. If not, you will want to find your personal copy and have it ready alongside your other documents. Having last year’s return will help you to see what you filed last year so that you can be sure to include everything that is similar.
Step 6: Determine How You Will Spend Your Refund
This is the most vital step to empowering your financial future. If you expect to get a refund this year, you will want to consider what you plan to do with your return once you receive it. You have the option to apply your payment towards your tax bill next year if you believe you will owe. This is a great action to take for those who pay estimated taxes throughout the year as it can often put a chunk towards your first installment.
Alternatively, you can also send the money directly to a checking or savings account, or even contribute it to an IRA, health savings account or education account. If you plan to split the funds between accounts, you will need to complete a Form 8888.
If you are looking to make this season an easy and relaxing tax-filing process, observe these recommendations carefully. It will go a long way in creating a smooth and seamless filing experience for you and your family.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.