Taxes are due April 18, so if you haven’t begun working on tax preparation yet time is running out! Let’s face it, filing your return is always stressful drudgery if you do it yourself. Actually, it’s still drudgery when you have an accountant. Luckily we’ve got 10 tax help tips to maximize your refund and make filing a little easier. And remember, the IRS is predicting that over 70% of filers will get an average refund of $3,053!
1. Watch out for identity theft.
The FTC has reported that most of its identity theft complaints for 2014 involved tax fraud. That’s when someone uses your SSN to file a return. If they get theirs in before you do, they’ll nab your refund. Check out the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) site for more info.
Read Related: Smart Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund
2. Don’t forget the Affordable Care Act.
If you enrolled in Obamacare in 2015, and received a subsidy or tax credit, you’ll need to file form 8962. If you didn’t have insurance last year and you’re claiming a coverage exemption, file form 8965. If you simply didn’t have insurance last year, you’ll need to report that and pay the penalty of 2% of income above filing threshold or a flat dollar amount of $325 per adult $162.50 per child with a family maximum of $975. Check out the ACA Tax Provisions on the IRS site for tax help.
3. Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports winnings may feel like free money but you actually need to pay taxes on them. If you earned more than $600, you’ll be getting a 1099-Misc or W-2G form. Fantasy Footballers has the 411.
4. Itemize your return.
Itemizing makes tax preparation a little trickier but it almost always pays off. Be sure to research what deductions you qualify for.
5. State sales or income tax Deductions.
If you write off purchases on your federal return you may be able to deduct any state sales tax you paid on those items from your state return. Some states allow you to deduct last year’s federal tax payment. The laws vary so do your research.
6. Take advantage of the child-care credit.
You may be able to get a tax credit for 20-35% of what you paid for child-care last year.
7. Make a last-minute IRA contribution.
You can deduct IRA contributions made before April 18 — a last-minute contribution could cut your tax bill.
8. Military and their families get free tax help from IRS.
“The IRS offers free tax help to members of the military and their families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is available both on and off base including sites for military members overseas.”
9. If you didn’t file 2012 return the IRS may owe you money.
The IRS estimates about one million people who didn’t file in 2012 are owed refunds averaging about $718. There’s no penalty for filing late if you’re owed a refund. According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “We especially encourage students and others who didn’t earn much money to look into this situation because they may still be entitled to a refund.”
10. Check your math twice.
Math errors are one of the most common tax preparation mistakes. They can delay your refund and even require you to file an amended return so triple check your math!