Tax Tips Before Next Week's Last-Minute Tax Tips

It is NOT quite the final hours to get your taxes done, but certainly, the clock is ticking down. Before the days turn into hours before your tax return is due, there is still plenty of time to get your taxes done accurately and to take advantage of some of the many rules in place to help you get a bigger tax refund.
At the time of this piece, we are down to the last full week before taxes are due so here is a quick hit list (you need to get back to preparing your taxes don't you?) of tips:

  • Gather all your paperwork and decide if you are using tax software or a tax pro. Even if you plan to mail you return instead of electronically filing it, tax software can help you ensure you don't make a math error and it is easier to reprint a form if you do make a typo than it is to fill out a form by hand again.

  • Reduce your taxes by contributing to an IRA. If yours spouse does not work outside the house, you can contribute up to5,500 (6,500 if 50 or older) to their IRA based on your earnings; this is called a Spousal IRA and is in addition to your IRA contributions
  • Figure out if you are better off itemizing deductions:
      • Figure the value of your noncash charitable contributions
      • If you are in a "No Income Tax State" check how much sales taxes you paid on a large purchase such as a car, boat, motorcycle, trailer, RV or home and add it to your general sales tax amount
      • Gather all out-of-pocket after tax expenses for medical such as health, dental and vision insurance, prescriptions, doctors, labs, hospital costs, even the cost of medical devices such as a walker, crutches
      • Figure your mileage for all your health care visits and volunteer work for charitable organizations
      • Calculate your out-of-pocket volunteer expenses, out-of-pocket employee expenses, and your school expenses if you are taking classes to enhance your job. Don't' forget you can claim a Lifetime Learning Credit for the tuition and fees and claim an employee business expense for the other classroom expenses including mileage to your class on days you go to school and work.
      • If you have a health-savings account, contribute before April 18 and it's deductible even if you don't itemize.
      • If you make estimated payments, make sure that you make the one due for the first quarter on-time.

      If there is a chance you aren't going to finish your tax return on time or you want to work on your taxes stress free next week and possibly beyond, file an extension. Extensions of time to file are typically automatically approved, you can find details about extensions on the IRS website, in your tax software, or ask your tax pro to file it for you.

      This is NOT panic time - yet, but it IS time to start to get organized and focused on getting your taxes completed. Taking a little more time and using a few of the above tips will help you keep focused on some best practices and true value added ideas that can improve your tax return accuracy and even possibly the size of your tax refund. As I like to say, it is your money, keep more of it!

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