Taxes can be overwhelming. Here’s some help. First, a list of commonly needed documents. This is not a complete list, and not all items apply to all filers.
• Social Security Numbers (of all dependents)
• Charitable Contribution Statements
• Investment Earnings Statements
• Mortgage Interest Statement
• 2011′s Return; including the amount of any refunds
• Work-related Expense Receipts (such as uniform requirements that are not reimbursed)
• Home improvements that improved energy efficiency (such as replacement windows and doors)
• Self-Employment Records
• Business Expense Receipts
• Business Expense Records
• Business Income Records
• Mileage Statements
• Home-use for Business Statements (such as utility bills)
• Home utility purchases that improved energy efficiency (such as a new furnace or water heater)
Second, some tips for getting ready…
(1) Gather your paperwork. Look at last year’s return to jog your memory.
(2) Make an appointment with a tax professional, or purchase and install current tax return software on your computer.
- If you get help with your taxes, allow at least two days between gathering your paperwork and going to your appointment. This gives you to time to remember everything you need to bring with you.
- If you use self-prep software, don’t fill it out and send it the same day. Save your return and look at it again the next day with fresh eyes. This reduces the chance of errors or omissions.
(3) If you owe money, you can submit the paperwork, and then wait to mail the money on April 15th. Payments are not required to be sent with your return.
One more tip to consider…
If you receive a huge refund every year, it may feel like a windfall and be exciting, but it actually harms you financially. Often all a big refund means is that you overpaid the government all year. Then they give you your money back without paying you any interest. So examine why you get a big refund and consider adjusting your payroll deductions. Always seek personal, professional advice prior to making any changes.
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