I know what you’re thinking. It’s not even Halloween yet so why in the world should we be thinking about the most dreaded day of the year, April 15th? The truth is, now is exactly the time when you should begin planning the preparation of your 2009 tax return. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Avoid tax preparation services such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. Instead, put in the time and effort to find a good C.P.A. If you’re serious about wealth building, then you need an accountant who’s going to be available to you throughout the year, not just during tax season. Tax service companies open their doors during the weeks leading up to tax season and close them shortly thereafter. If in September, the IRS decides that they have a question about your 2009 tax return, it will be almost impossible for you to get in contact with the tax preparer who completed your return if you used a tax service. Instead, you’ll be stuck playing phone tag with the tax service’s corporate office. This is not a good position to be in when you’re up against the Internal Revenue Service.
- Don’t make the mistake of not knowing ahead of time your estimated balance due or refund amount. Whether you make estimated tax payments throughout the year or have withholding from your payroll check, follow this link to access the IRS withholding calculator. The calculator will prompt you to answer a series of questions about your current tax situation including the amount of federal tax paid thus far, number of dependents, and your filing status. It will then provide you with an estimate of the amount you will owe or the amount to be refunded back to you at the end of the tax year. If you’re unhappy with that amount, you have time to make the necessary adjustments. Be proactive.
- Remember, the tax code changes from year to year. A deduction you were eligible to take in tax year 2008 may have been reduced or removed for tax year 2009. It pays to review changes to the tax code since your last filing. Click here to review the changes that could affect your bottom line.
- With the unemployment rate approaching 10%, it is a given that 2009 was a difficult year for many taxpayers. Many of you may be looking to your 2009 refund to lighten your financial load. Just make 100% sure that you are not behind with your student loan payments or child support. If you are, the IRS will take your refund and apply it to what you owe the Department of Education or the state in which you owe child support. The process of getting back on track can take months, so start now.
- RECEIPTS! RECEIPTS! RECEIPTS! As I mentioned previously, if your return is flagged for an audit, you’ll need to document your deductions with receipts. Now is the time to start collecting and organizing your receipts, not mid April!
This is a guest post from Yvette Carnell, who wrote it for Tax Matters Solutions, a Fort Wayne, Indiana business helping people with IRS problems.