Guest Blogger - Ryan Stuart, UHR, Benefits Student Assistant
It’s that time of year again and tax season is well under way. In fact, you have less than one month to get them completed! No reason to panic, but definitely time to get motivated. This will be the first of a three-part series focused on helping you reduce stress and succeed financially during the tax season. We start off with four steps to help you make it through the tax season.
Be Informed – The 2017 tax filing season has officially begun as of January 23rd. Most taxpayers are unable to start filing until February due to companies generally not sending tax forms until January 31st. If you plan on preparing your taxes yourself this year, check out the IRS website first. The IRS provides excellent resources for all taxpayers, especially low income earners. Some of these resources include:
- The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) prepares tax returns for individuals who generally make less than $54,000 or are disabled.
- The Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program (TCE) provides tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those over the age of 60.
- Most tax preparation websites will allow you to file for free if your Adjusted Gross Income is less than $64,000 and/or you have served in the military.
Be Prepared – Know ahead of time which tax forms you expect to receive. This could save you a lot of time and effort down the road if you file before receiving all of your documents. A tax return can always be amended, but amendments are best to avoid if possible. The following are some common tax forms you may or may not receive.
- Form 1098 is for homeowners and provides mortgage interest, mortgage insurance premiums, and property taxes.
- 1099INT and 1099-DIV for investment interest and dividends.
- If you do freelance work on the side, expect a 1099MISC. Companies will report income over $600 for their independent contractors.
- 1098T and 1098-E are forms for college tuition and student loan interest, respectively.
Be Organized – Whether you plan to do your own taxes or take them to a tax preparation service, make sure you have printed copies of EVERYTHING. It will make the process so much easier if all of the information is right in front of you or your tax professional. If you followed the previous step, then you will already know if you have the right documents.
Be Ready – April 18th will come really fast. Yes, you read that right. The 2017 tax filing deadline falls on April 18th this year instead of the traditional April 15th. The full explanation for this can be read here. If you follow these four steps, you should have no problems at all this tax season.
Coming up next…..Your taxes are done, you received a big refund check, but what should you do with it?