Tax Season - Feb 2011

The tax deadline will be here sooner than you think and to avoid stressing out at the last minute it's a good idea to start planning now.

By now you should have received most, if not all of you tax documents. These can include all W-2's/W-4's (employer), 1098 (for home owners), 1098E (student loan interest). They are required to be mailed to you by January 31. Make sure you store them all in the same place. Dedicate a drawer or label a folder to keep all of your documents in the same place and easily accessible when you are ready to file. This will save you so much time and effort if you don't have to go searching for all these forms when you do get ready to file.

As you start to receive your tax documents it's important that you double-check them for any inaccuracies. A misspelled name or a wrong number can cause delays and headaches on your tax return.

Arm yourself with as much information as you can. There are plenty of legitimate websites that provided valuable information about taxes. This is a great way to find more money on your return and can better educate you for next year.

If you are planning on doing your own taxes you may want to purchase a tax software program. You can purchase them at the store or download it from reputable websites. These programs walk you through the process and ask you plenty of questions to make sure you are accurately filing. Buying the software now allows you time to familiarize yourself and learn how the software works.

Consider signing up to have your tax return set up on direct deposit. Check with your financial institution to make sure that there will be no problems. There is line on the 1040 Form where you fill out your account information and that way you don't have to wait for your return to be sent through the mail or the fear of it getting lost or stolen. You will also notice that you will have the money sooner than if you wait by mail.

You may want to do a quick estimate to see if you may have to pay in or if you will receive a return this year. It doesn't have to be exact just enough to give you an idea of what you may owe or what you have coming to you. There are places online where you can enter your estimations and it will give you a number.

If you do find or think that you will have to pay in this year you still have some time to save and come up with the amount you will have to pay in. It may not be the best news but you don't have to let it ruin your finances. If you are well prepared to pay it will be better than trying to come up with excuses as to why you can't pay the IRS.

You may be uncomfortable with anything having to do with your taxes and would like to have a tax preparer do them for you. Start researching and looking now, that way you have time to find a good preparer. If you have friends, family, or co-workers that use tax preparers, ask them for their information. Continue reading for some information from the IRS to be aware of when choosing a legitimate tax preparer.

Here are some questions to ask your potential tax preparer:

  • What education and training do you have in preparing taxes?
  • How many years have you been preparing taxes?
  • Do you have experience preparing taxes for people in financial situations similar to mine?
  • Do you provide any assistance if I'm audited?
  • How quickly can I expect you to complete my return?
  • Will you be able to give me advice on how to get in better shape for next tax year?
  • What is your fee?

Don't wait until the last day to do all of your taxes at once. Do it a bit at a time, spread out over a longer period. This allows you to check over your work with fresh eyes (and perhaps notice things you didn't see before).

Come up with a plan - maybe you'll spend an hour each Saturday starting in February on your taxes. Add it to your calendar now so that you'll know you've got to do it. You also don't want to wait until the last minute because if you are expecting a return; why would you want to wait to get that money?

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