’Tis the season, once again. Tax season is right around the corner. April 15 is quickly approaching, and if you’re worried about preparing your taxes, you’re not alone. For many Americans, tax season is a stressful time.
You want to be sure you file an accurate return and also take advantage of all the deduction opportunities for which you’re eligible. Nobody wants to get in trouble with the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary. By taking a few planning and organizational steps, however, you can increase your preparedness and simplify the process.
Even with tax software, doing your own taxes can be a complicated and anxiety-producing process. Unless you’re a tax professional, the complex maze of deductions, credits and other factors can be confusing.
Make filing your taxes go smoothly this year. Below are a few tips to help you get through this tax season without all the stress:
Do a little prep work.
First, collect all relevant documents and statements. This simple organizational step can help eliminate a great deal of stress. Gather all the information you need to do your taxes so you have it readily available in one place. This information might include earnings reports from your employer, bank and investment account statements, and even debt documentation, such as that related to a mortgage.
These should be sent to you early in the year. If you haven’t received all the documentation you need, you can call the account administrator and request it. It may also be helpful to make a list of all the paperwork you think you may need to do your taxes. This way you can help ensure you’re not missing anything.
Take advantage of additional deduction options.
Even though the year is over, you may still have the opportunity to get deductions for your 2016 return. Certain deductions are available up until the filing deadline, so you may want to explore your options.
For instance, you may still have the option to make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. You might also consider making deductible contributions to a health savings account (HSA). You could even look into making a contribution to a 529 college savings plan in order to take a deduction on your state tax return. Again, a tax professional can help you identify these types of opportunities.
Review your bank account records.
It’s always wise to review your spending periodically, but this can be especially helpful when preparing your taxes. Look over your bank account records and identify expenditures that may be tax-deductible. These may include costs related to child care, medical care, home improvements and much more.
The ins and outs of the tax code can be complex, however. Again, you can always seek help if you’re unsure about which expenses may count as tax-deductible. A tax professional can help you better understand what’s deductible and what’s not.
Determine if you need help.
Once you review all the documents you’ve gathered, think about whether you should do your taxes yourself or seek the help of a tax professional. There are some situations in which talking to a tax professional may be in your best interest. This may be the case if you have a complicated tax situation. For example, business owners often face complex tax challenges. If you got married or divorced in the past year, your taxes could be complex.
It’s also possible that you may simply feel uncomfortable doing taxes yourself. Regardless of the reason, don’t hesitate to consult a tax professional if you feel it may be necessary or helpful.
Need help organizing your financial picture as you prepare for tax season? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Stoll & Basler Financial Services. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
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