They say nothing is certain, except death and taxes. One other thing we know: Figuring out all your deductions, allowances, credits, and more can be stressful! Make April 15 a little less taxing with these 11 helpful tips.
1. FILE ONLINE.
You pay your bills, check the weather, and shop for clothing (and maybe even significant others) online—why should your taxes be any different? Save a tree and file electronically. There are plenty of resources and third party services available to help you, or you can e-file directly with the state or federal government if you meet the salary requirements.
2. DON’T GET MARRIED TO THE IDEA OF FILING JOINTLY WITH YOUR SPOUSE.
If you and your partner both work and have similar incomes, filing separately may be a better option. The same applies if one or both of you plans to make a number of miscellaneous deductions.
3. DECIDE WHETHER TO ITEMIZE YOUR DEDUCTIONS.
Doing so may grant you more than the standard deduction, so do a little math before committing to one method or the other. If you do itemize, don’t forget to deduct state and local taxes you paid last year.
4. PAY YOUR JANUARY MORTGAGE IN DECEMBER.
You know what they say: The early bird gets the better mortgage interest deduction. Homeowners who pay their January mortgage before December 31 of the previous year can deduct the added interest.
5. SAME FOR ESTIMATED TAXES.
Similarly, self-employed workers can pay fourth-quarter estimated taxes in December instead of January to increase their itemizing potential. Cha-ching!
6. DEDUCT JOB SEARCH EXPENSES.
If you've been unemployed or looking for another job, don't forget to deduct expenses related to your job hunt, like resume printing and transportation to and from interviews.
7. GET MORE FROM YOUR MOVE.
Alas, there are no deductions for your very first job search. However, you can deduct the cost of relocating to take your first job if you moved 50 miles from your previous place of residence.
8. ASK FOR HELP…
Taxes can be complicated, and free preparation services are here to help qualifying people. If you’re age 60 or older, have a disability, are a student, or earn less than $54,000 per year, tax assistance may be available—free of charge.
9. … BUT CHOOSE WISELY.
That said, remember that tax preparation assistance isn’t always regulated. For best results, find a CPA, trained volunteer, or IRS-enrolled agent you trust.
10. FILE LIKE IT’S 1997.
That’s when the IRS first started accepting scanned receipts in favor of an old shoebox full of paper. Feel free to throw out the originals once you back them up.
11. PAY ONLINE.
If you owe money, paying electronically will take care of the matter faster than you can say, "The check is in the mail."