I’m slogging through my taxes and found these tax tips from CPA Steven Meyerson of JustAnswer.com to be super useful. Steven apparently gets a lot of the same questions year in year out because folks like you and me forget the most basic rules of tax preparation and filing. His tips:
Dealing with kids and marriages: If you’re married or divorced be sure that you and your spouse’s last names match all social security records, because your return will be rejected if they don’t. Also, if you’re divorced with children, be sure you know who’s claiming the kids. The rule is that whoever files first will initially get the credit and if it’s not the right person, correspondence with the IRS will be required by both parties to resolve the matter. To avoid that mess, it’s something you NEED to work out beforehand.
E-filing is the way to go: If you’re doing your taxes yourself, you should save yourself some time and money by e-filing using the IRS’s Free File program. The online form populates the numbers for you so you don’t have to worry about calculating the math. The other upside is that once you submit your return, you will receive your check earlier than if you had submitted it manually.
Use the correct forms: Make sure you use your W2 forms and not a recent pay stub – there is a huge difference.
Need an extension? Make sure you file it by April 15, unless you are living out of the country in which case you have until June 15 to file your return or file for an extension. Remember, extensions should include an approximation of the amount you owe, whether remitted or not. Failure to properly estimate your liability could lead to a rejection of your extension request and could result in late filing penalties.
Please Don’t Procrastinate: If you want your money earlier, you need to file your return earlier. The closer you file your return to the due date, the longer it will take for you to get it back.
And Don’t Pay Extra: Paying to get your return earlier is never worth it. Avoid anticipation loans or quick refunds because the cost isn’t worth having the funds a few day’s early.
Additionally, I found this IRS tax calculator to help you out over the next month. The post office has free hard copies of basic tax forms or you can get them online through the IRS.