With the yearly tax deadline rapidly approaching many people are gearing up to try to make the process as painless as possible. This year was hard on a lot of people, so many of them want to at least make the unpleasant business of taxes as easy as they can. Here are 5 great tips to make sure you’re ready to file on time.
1. Get Organized
This is one of the most significant and powerful things you can do to be prepared for the annual chore. Most times, you can get a lot of pertinent info from last year’s return paperwork. However, if you’ve moved, bought a house, gotten married, or had a baby, then there are additional deductions you may be able to claim. Keep all that paperwork together in a folder for tax time, and file important emails in their own folder to be printed ahead of time if needed.
2. Get Help
If you need some in-person, face-to-face help, you may be able to get IRS-endorsed help through a program called VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Low-income taxpayers who earn $57k or less annually, or are disabled, can get help from the tax preparers in VITA. Those in active-duty capacities in the military even have their own tax channels like TurboTax Military or TaxSlayer Military to help them get the most out of filing.
3. Don’t Forget Your Retirement And Charity Contributions
Make sure that you are aware of your IRA and 401(k) contributions, limits, and overages. You have until the tax deadline to make any IRA contributions that you need to make to catch up, and if you’ve contributed excess, make sure to withdrawal to avoid penalties.
Charity contributions have also changed this year. If you are taking the standard deduction you can automatically claim $300 in charitable donations without needing to itemize. If you itemize you can claim up to your entire adjusted income.
4. File For Free
The IRS allows any individuals or families with an income below $72k to use the Free File software to both prepare and file their federal taxes. It will also allow the free filing of state taxes in some states. Even those with incomes over the threshold can use the IRS’ Free File Fillable Forms, though they do generally need someone familiar with paper filing.
5. File For An Extension If You Need It
There’s no sugar-coating it, tax season is stressful. Not only is there a nationwide rush to file in the final few weeks, but that is also when millions of Americans file an extension. A tax filing extension needs to be filed by April 15th. However, it does allow until October 15 to finish filing your return.
There is a catch, however, and any estimated owed taxes by the original tax deadline. If not, they will accrue penalties and interest. If you aren’t sure how much you’ll owe, start by paying what you paid the previous year.