Preparation is key to guaranteeing the annual tax deadline doesn't overwhelm you. Check out the following tips on how to reduce stress and increase your refund, or decrease the amount you owe.
Gather important tax-related information and documents now. Organize necessary receipts, canceled checks and records supporting income and deductions. If you're filing via mail, make copies of everything you're going to provide to the IRS – you'll want to keep the originals for yourself and store them in a safe place. If you've compiled all the needed documentation ahead of time, you'll be less stressed come tax day.
Reduce Your Tax Burden
Make sure to utilize all available tax deductions and credits, including those for expenses associated with child care, education, health insurance and charitable donations. Adjustments to your income – such as moving expenses, alimony paid and IRA contributions – can also help increase your refund or decrease the amount you owe.
Determine Your Filing Status
If you're eligible for more than one tax status, it's important to consider how you're going to file. For example, married couples can file jointly or separately. While the IRS offers a number of tax breaks to couples who file together, there are circumstances in which filing separately could be beneficial. Do your research ahead of time so you know what will work best for your situation.
Weigh Your Options
There are numerous ways to prepare and file your taxes. You can do your own taxes or hire professional assistance. If your income was $62,000 or less, you qualify for free web-based tax software
. Depending on a number of circumstances, you may also be eligible for free, face-to-face help from a tax assistance program. Find out more about the government's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program here
Review Your Return
A mistake on your taxes is the surest way to delay your refund. Check over all your calculations before you submit your return to the IRS. And if you do notice a mistake after you've filed, it's best to amend your taxes as soon as possible.