- Days left

Early tax filing tips: 8 ways to make tax season less painful

Unfortunately, we all have to go through the painstaking process of doing our taxes. For those who want to get it over with now, Ken and Daria Dolan have some simple steps you can take that will take some of the stress out of tax season.

In a Dolans.com survey, 34% of respondents said that they start working on their taxes in January. We applaud all of you early birds and we want to encourage the rest of you to follow suit.

Trust us, tackling tax season in bite-sized chunks will make the whole process much less daunting and save you a lot of time and headache down the road. Here are a few simple, painless tricks that can give you a big head start on your 2009 taxes now.


1. Create a system for organizing tax documents as they come in.

There is nothing worse than sitting down to do your taxes, then realizing that you have to start scouring through the house because you can't find an important document. The key is to have a system in place before the first tax document ever shows up at your house. Your system can be as unsophisticated as a large envelope or an accordion file. Just designate a spot and make sure that everyone in the house knows about it.

2. Review all tax documents as they come in.

As tax documents show up, don't just stuff them into that great new tax record keeper. Take a moment to review each document as it comes in so that you can correct discrepancies well before you start preparing your return. If there is a mistake, getting a corrected W-2 or 1099 form can take time, so don't wait until you are down to the wire.

3. Calculate whether you will have to pay back any of the "Making Work Pay" tax credit.

As part of last year's stimulus package, many American's received extra money in their paychecks. But approximately 15 million taxpayers will have to repay between $250-$400 of the tax credit they received. To avoid getting a nasty surprise when you file, use the IRS Schedule M to determine whether or not you will have to repay Uncle Sam.

4. Make sure that you know all the 2009 changes that could impact your taxes.

Every year sees new tax changes, but 2009 was especially busy. As the government tried to save the economy, tax credits and rebates were flying. Cash for Clunkers, the homebuyer's tax credit, energy rebates.... be sure that you know the 2009 tax rules so that you can take advantage of every credit and deduction possible.

5. Decide whether you are going to go it alone or hire a pro.

Thanks to our ridiculously complicated tax code even the current IRS Commissioner recently admitted that he hires tax prep help. About 60% of us have to pay a professional to help us prepare our taxes. If you are going to use a professional, make your appointment early.

If you are going to go it alone, decide whether you are going to use tax software. If so, you can get ahead of the game by purchasing your tax software now. Tax software can help you find every deduction to which you are entitled and helps you avoid common mistakes that can trip you up, such as simple math mistakes (electronic returns have 13% fewer mistakes).

6. Get your tax forms now.

If you are filing by mail and not electronically, get the tax forms you will need now. You can find commonly-used tax forms at your local library. You can also download all tax forms through the IRS's web site or have a copy mailed to you by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.

7. Start gathering your tax information now.

There's no reason to wait until the heat of the battle to start organizing the tax information that you already have. Make a list of all your 2009 tax payments and tax refunds, comb through your credit card bills and checkbook to look for possible deductions, tally up charitable donations and collect all the Social Security numbers you'll need in one place.

8. Start early

There's no sense in putting off the inevitable. Use these tips to get a big of a head start on the tax season now and save yourself headache and heartache as the tax deadline looms.

As you dive into your 2009 taxes, let us share 11 overlooked tax deductions and show you how to make your tax deductions airtight.

Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

5 Tax Tips for Single Parents

Filing taxes as a single parent requires coordination between you and your ex-spouse or partner. Usually the custodial parent claims the child as a dependent, but there are exceptions. A single parent is allowed to claim applicable deductions and exemptions for each qualifying child. Even though you claim your child as a dependent, she may still have to file her own tax return if she has income, such as from an after-school job.

Affordable Care Act Decoded

The health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act may directly affect your tax liability. Many taxpayers are familiar with the requirement that most Americans either carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But that's just one provision, and knowing what else is in the law can help you avoid surprises come tax time.

Cost of Taking the Wrong Tax Deductions

Taking the wrong tax deductions can cost you time and money. If you're depending on a tax refund, a tax return that is improperly filed can keep you waiting for a long time. You may also get back less than you expected. If the Internal Revenue Service suspects errors or requires proof of deductions, you may be asked to provide back-up documents to prove your numbers and amend the return. "If the IRS requires further information," advises Bill Symons, president of Computer Accounting Services in Oswego, N.Y., "You'll receive an official request by mail. Normally the situation is easily rectified, but it can delay refunds by up to 10 to 11 months."

5 Steps to Navigate the Healthcare Marketplaces

To navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace, you have to know what you want from a health plan. Have your previous plan handy to make comparisons, as well as household and income information. If this is your first health plan, be aware of your needs and know your tax situation. Eligibility depends on the size of your family and combined income from all sources.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum