By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
The IRS has started their seasonal “Tax Tip” campaign. I do like these tips. They cover many of the general questions that taxpayers ask. In the interest of having a little fun, let’s pick apart Tax Tip 2011-01
- Start gathering your records – I agree. Waiting to the last minute can cost you deductions. Lost receipts or forgotten documents are the bane of tax preparation. Give yourself time to get it together before the filing deadline gets here.
- Be on the lookout for w-2 and 1099’s – well duh IRS, this kind of falls into item number 1 don’t ya think? If you are owed a 1099 or W2, these are delivered or mailed to you by January 31, 2011. So if it’s March and you don’t have your forms, better start making some calls because something is wrong.
- Use free file – This option is cool, but a bit deceiving. Free file is a great product to prepare your federal income return if your income is less than $58,001. Free file is sponsored by brand name – for profit- tax software companies. So keep in mind, you still pay for the use of the software when you prepare your state tax return (only the federal part is prepared for free).
- IRS e-file – Personally I like efiling. It is convenient, fast, accurate, and paperless. Besides, here’s a heads up, E-file is mandatory for some taxpayers. It’s a new age, time to get on the ball and accept modern technological advances.
- Consider other filing options – Yes there are other options – you could prepare your return yourself (not recommended). And, if you qualify, there are ways to get your return filed that don’t cost money. Consider checking out your local VITA program. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
- Consider direct deposit – I still get taxpayers who want to have their refund checks mailed to them. I can’t really get my head around this one. Generally, there isn’t a good reason to have a check mailed versus having your refund direct deposited.
- Visit the IRS website again and again – okay, lots of helpful information here. No reason not to. I say, do it.
- Remember to checkout IRS publication 17. Well, yes if you want to learn all about income tax by all means here is a publication that will help. Helpful stuff includes: a) What’s new for 2010, b) Reminder, c) When you should file a return, d) When to paper file vs. efile, c) Yada yada yada
- Review! Review! Review! – Well ya check for mistakes. But people really, if you’re not a tax expert, you really aren’t going to know if you blew it. Might I suggest you have a tax professional review your return before you file.
- Don’t panic! – Unless you want too of course – or waited until the last minute. When all else fails, the IRS says you can give them a call at 800-829-1040.
- Tax tip: It’s time to get started; here’s a few things you can do (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Some Tax Payers Will Need to File Their 1040 Later Rather Than Sooner This Coming Filing Season (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- Important 2011 tax filing deadlines: Jan. 14, mid-February, April 18, Oct. 17 (dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com)
- IRS Delays Start of Filing Season for Some Taxpayers (businessweek.com)