According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center, approximately 33% of Americans file their own taxes each year. If you’re one of the 33%, you’re in the right spot!
Since April 15th falls on a Sunday this year, the filing deadline is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. If you’re filing your own taxes this year, it’s time to gather up all your documents and get started! Use some of these tips to help get you through the process (and hopefully keep more money in your pocket).
Gather and Organize Your Tax Documents
Not only do you need to gather copies of your tax documents from your employer(s), but you should also have a copy of last year’s return on-hand while doing your taxes. Whether you have a W-2 from your employer or a 1099-MISC from contract work (or both), you will need all of your earnings paperwork in order to file. Some other forms you might receive can be found here. In addition to employer paperwork, you will also need
- Social security number
- Bank account number
- Bank routing number
- Interest statements (mortgage, student loans, etc)
- HSA and retirement account contribution records
- Receipts and bank statements for deductions
What’s Your Filing Status?
If you’re married, you have the option to file jointly or as married-filing-separately. Have you looked at which option is most beneficial for you? While programs like TurboTax will do the calculation for you and recommend the best filing status, make sure to investigate which filing status will maximize your refund potential.
Contribute to Your IRA
Did you know that even though we’re already in 2018, you still have until April 15th to open a traditional IRA for the previous year? Traditional IRAs are tax-deferred, which means that traditional IRA contributions will reduce your taxable income. Take advantage of the maximum contribution! Not only will less of your income be taxed, but you’ll also be saving for retirement.
If you have made charitable donations to nonprofits with a 501(c)3 tax status in 2017, you might be eligible for substantial tax savings. First, verify that the charity has a 501(c)3 status, and keep your receipt. Some common deductions you can claim on your taxes include cash donations, tithes to religious organizations, mileage if you used your car to assist a nonprofit and donated real estate/furniture/clothing/supplies.
Protect Your Information
Tax season is prime time for identity theft. Never send your tax return information to anyone through email unless it’s being encrypted or is going through a secure portal. Always protect your personal information to avoid identity theft! Beware of tax scams from those pretending to be from the IRS through phone calls, texts, social media or even email. The IRS’s first contact with a taxpayer will always be through a mailed letter.
Don’t forget, Financial Center members can save up to $15 with TurboTax federal products online!