What To Have On Hand
A calculator to double-check the math any tax software program does.
All receipts, W2s and other needed forms like a 1099 for any interest earned on savings accounts, etc.
A steady and fast internet connection
Paper tablet and pens for jotting down notes
A favorite drink and snack to make it easier
The right tax software package for your needs. Many of them come with checklists to be sure all potential deductions are taken and remind users if a step was missed. Plus, they do the math.Need to Know
Professional tax preparers and tax accountants sign their name to your return. If there is a mistake and you get audited, they take the blame and have to fix it. Trust only those who do this for a living and not those who promise a big refund.
If you get an audit letter from the IRS, do not delay the meeting. It is not as nerve wracking as you might think. Most of the people who work there are rather nice and understanding. Just bite the bullet and walk in before your appointment time. I learned this from personal experience.
Unemployed folks – I have been there and know what it is like. Here are some tax tips for you. Your unemployment office should have sent you a 1099-G for report any earnings from unemployment (if you can call that earnings). The Earned Income Tax Credit is pretty good for a single with no kids filer and good for married with kids filers. Be sure to include that on your 1040. Did you take a hardship loan from a retirement plan? You can include that when you file. If you were unemployed for part of the year and then got a job, you still have to report the number from the 1099-G along with any wages earned. And hang in there. Not having a job is a curse to household expenses but can be a blessing if wanting to change career direction.
The IRS Tax Email Con – Do not open it. The IRS does not email tax payers. Ever. If you get an email from the IRS or EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System), forward it to [email protected] and do not respond. It is a con which asks for personal information like social security numbers. Forward it to the address above and then delete it.
Self Employed Filers – The cost of tax preparation, including any software package is deductible. Take all copies, receipts and other paperwork with you to the tax professional. Most preparers will send their clients a file to get them started. Do what you can before going in. Home office expenses are deducible but receipts must be filed to prove it. The same goes for vehicle mileage.Go Get HelpIf you are doing your own taxes and get stuck, ante up the small fee most professional preparers charge and get some help. It is better than trying to understand all the new tax rules and far better than paying more than you really owe or getting audited later. If you are already online using one of the top software packages, take advantage of their chat option or free hotline. Other options include the IRS numbers which are on their website. Good luck!