January is a time when we’re all thinking about the year that just passed and looking forward to the future. It’s no coincidence that tax season kicks off with the New Year, since you’ll need to look back at your finances in order to file your return. We’ve got some tax tips to help you get started well before April rolls around.
GET HELP FROM VITA
As with all things finance related, it’s always a good idea to talk to a professional before you make any decisions. If your household income is less than $62,000 you may qualify for free tax preparation through the VITA program. Service is first come, first serve, so don’t delay! To learn more about VITA, including sites and locations, click here
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EITC
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a benefit for working families that meet income based requirements. If you qualify, it may reduce the amount of tax you owe and even give you a refund. VITA volunteers can even help you claim your EITC going back three years. Just last year, $96 million in tax refunds went unclaimed by people who didn’t take advantage of the EITC.
ORGANIZING IS KEY
Tracking down all the documents you need to prepare your tax return can be stressful. Keeping documents like receipts, statements and other important forms in one easy to find place will save you a lot of searching down the road. It’s never too late to start getting organized and it doesn’t require much, even a simple envelope or shoebox can help you keep everything you need in one place. For a list of the documents you will need for your taxes, click here.
GET AN EARLY START
If you need to file a tax return, starting sooner rather than later is going to help you out. It gives you extra time to find and even replace documents you might need but can’t find and it can even save you some money. As the tax season goes on, tax preparers will get busier and sometimes the rates for tax preparation go up later in the season.
If you’re comfortable filing your own taxes, try online filing. Tax software is growing in popularity and can help you beat the crowds.
REMEMBER YOUR GIVING
Some kinds of charitable giving are tax-deductible and will give you receipts that can be used to claim deductions. To learn more about charitable donations, click here.
SECURE YOUR INFORMATION
Your tax return contains a lot of valuable information about you. Keeping your information safe while filing your taxes can help protect you from fraud. Keep your paper copies of your tax returns in a safe place and never store personal information on a public computer (like at a library or a school).
Scammers use the tax season to try and gain access to people’s personal information. The IRS will never, ever initiate contact with you over the phone or by email to request money or personal information. Also, the IRS will never threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement actions. If you receive a suspicious phone call or email from someone claiming to be with the IRS, please report them here.
You can also find a lot more information and important tips to help protect your accounts and personal information in our Fraud Resource Center.