Let's Talk Taxes
For many of us, April means daffodils, the first BBQ of the year and baseball season. But it also means tax time is nigh. If you're scrambling to get your returns done by the Big Day (bonus: it's April 18th this year), don't panic just yet. We've sourced several insightful articles from around the web that provide helpful ways to avoid common tax errors, the best apps for fast filing and suggestions for new parents.
Avoid Fraud and Other Pitfalls
If you're filing late this year, we recommend you read this Wall Street Journal article filled with last-minute tax tips. The author notes that taxpayer identity theft is rising at a fast rate, and although it is hard to prevent, taking precautions such as safeguarding information, ignoring suspicious emails and monitoring credit card reports closely can help. Also, make sure to open all documents from the IRS (always sent physically, never through email) to avoid being caught off guard.
Utilize Tax Apps
Tax apps can be a huge help to procrastinating filers. If your returns are relatively straightforward, USA Today suggests you consider using the TurboTax SnapTax app. It's free, super simple and takes about ten minutes to complete. H&R Block also has mobile tax apps, such as the 1040EZ for Smartphone, where you can prepare your federal and state returns for free on Android and iPhone. The caveat? It's only for simple filing. If you have dependents or any income not from a W2, you can't file through the app alone.
Prepare Before You File
The USA Today “Money” section published an article about common last-minute tax errors and how to avoid them. Their first tip is to make sure you have your prior tax return in hand before completing any paperwork for this year, as there are numerous items that could be affected by information from last year. They also recommend you compile the social security numbers for your spouse and all dependents, along with wages and earning statements (ie: W-2, 1099, etc.) and bank routing and account numbers before filling out any paperwork.
Tips for Parents
If you've got little ones in the family, there are certain ways to file that can help save you money. On the official IRS website, we found a list of tax benefits for parents that include child care credits for children under the age of 13, higher education credits if you paid for yourself or an immediate family member and student loan interest deductions. Also, if you welcomed a new baby this year, make sure you apply for a social security number if you haven't already.