3 Things to Do Before Tax Season (and What You’ll Need to Complete Your Tax Returns)
Womp, womp — there always seems to be a collective groan when tax collections and returns are mentioned, but there are several steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself. Stay a step ahead and follow these tips for a nicer tax season!
Don’t wait until the last minute.
If you can, try not to procrastinate, because it does take some time to collect all of the necessary paperwork. Locating and organizing these documents early can help make the entire process a little less of a headache. By filing early, you’re eliminating the mountain of stress that hits when you realize you don’t have the right document or that you’ve made an error. Besides, the earlier you get your tax return in, the sooner you’ll get any money the government owes you!
Make sure you have the correct paperwork.
What papers will you need to prep your tax returns? The answer depends on a few variables, like who your employer is, whether or not you are self-employed, and if you receive Social Security benefits, to name a few.
Documents you will want to gather before you begin filling out your tax return include:
- W-2 forms from all of your employers from the last tax year
- 1099 forms if you (or your spouse) earned income through contract work that exceeds $600
- Documentation regarding investment income, like the total interest you’ve earned in your savings accounts, dividends, or proceeds from the sale of stocks or bonds
- All other income amounts (such as money you get from unemployment benefits, rental property, Social Security, state tax refunds from the previous tax year, lottery winnings, and the like)
And, as you fill out your tax return and make income adjustments, be sure to consider credits and expenses such as:
- Homebuyer tax credit
- Green energy credits
- IRA contributions
- Mortgage interest
- Student loan interest
- Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions
- Self-employed health insurance
- Moving expenses
- Education costs
- Childcare costs
- Adoption costs
- Charitable contributions/donations
- Casualty and theft losses
- Qualified business expenses
- Medical expenses
The process doesn’t need to be as daunting as it may seem. Try to think through each item logically: Did you buy a house this year? Did you get married? Did you buy a car?
Fortunately, there are many services available in person and online to help you navigate deductions and adjustments.
Consider using a tax prep service.
If you are trying to complete your own tax return, make tax season more bearable with an online tax prep service like one of the following:
- These virtual consultants guide you step by step to help ensure your taxes are filed correctly.
- H&R Block
- Even if you have no previous experience filing taxes, H&R Block can help you thanks to personalized guidance and expert customer service.
- Millions of people have turned to TaxAct for federal tax return support. The company is best known for its approachable pricing and easy-to-navigate site.
For a more complete tax return checklist and to find all the forms you need, be sure to visit the IRS website.
Filing your taxes can be confusing and frustrating — not to mention time-consuming — even for those who know what they’re doing. As you prepare your tax returns this season, remember that Online Banking is a helpful tool and feature that gives you access to your historical banking records. And, we are available to meet for a financial review — call or email today to make an appointment with a representative at your local CresCom Bank.