This is pretty much no one's favorite time of year, unless they're an accountant. That's right, it's tax time. Even if you get a refund or don't owe, the entire process of doing your taxes can get pretty daunting. But it doesn't have to be. Check out some of our last minute tips to help make filing your return a little easier. And here are some tax preparation tips for next year so you aren't caught waiting until the last minute.
1. Keep track
If you itemize deductions, start keeping track now of whatever they are. Whether you create a folder on your computer, in your email or have an actual envelope for receipts, start putting everything all in one place so you don't need go searching come April 2015.
2. Ask around
If you don't want to do your taxes yourself, or maybe you just want to try another accountant, ask around. Talk to friends and family about who they use and why they like their accountant. This way you can get a head start on who to use next year. Many of them even use worksheets to track your documents and deductions so you might want to request this ahead of time. One of our sponsor brands, TurboTaxR, has a user-friendly platform to help you get through it if you're looking to brave tax season on your own!
3. Review and assess
Didn't get a refund last year? Or did you owe more than expected? Talk to your accountant and/or review your return to see why. A few things you can look into for next year:
- Increase your withholding: Check your pay stub? Do you declare yourself as married? Change it to married but withhold at single rate. Or even just single. This means they take out more each paycheck and you owe less at the end of the year. You can also ask the state or federal government to take out extra money each paycheck. This could be as little as $10 but might mean the difference between getting hit come tax time.
- Participate in a 401K: If your company matches, this is a no-brainer. But even if they don't, since this is pre-tax, it means you'll be taxed on less income and again, might owe less in years to come.
- Participate in an FSA: If your company allows you to participate in a Flexible Spending Account, for either dependent care (child care) or medical, this is also done pre-tax and will help you get taxed on less income at the end of the year.
- Participate in a transit program: Here in NY we have WageWorks, a program that allows you to pay with your paycheck for public transportation, up to a certain amount. Again, this is done pre-tax and since it's something you need to buy anyway, it pays (!) to deduct this from your paycheck.
What tax tips do you have? We'd love to hear them.
Photo credit: 401(K) 2012