Painting the Blank Canvas for Your 2017 Taxes
Tax payers take your mark! The holiday season has graciously come and gone and it’s time to start honoring the infamous New Year’s resolutions many commit to such as eat less, exercise more, stress less, be grateful more, waste less and save more. No matter your goals for this New Year, increasing opportunities for success and profitability may be the ideal blank canvas for bottom line great starts to 2017. With effective time management, motivation, and the often overlooked tactic of “being prepared,” a suite of options may be available to achieve your goals.
When it comes to your taxes, the IRS has announced that tax season will officially open on January 23, 2017 and will begin accepting electronically filed tax returns that day. While some may be motivated to file earlier, which can be done with many tax professionals and software companies, there is no advantage to filing tax returns in early January. With this in mind and the deadline not until April 18, 2017, it’s important for tax payers to plan ahead to ensure a smooth filing season.
Get organized ahead of time!
Productivity is a measure of results, not time spent getting there. One way to get organized is to establish a tax preparation checklist. Most people will need to gather the necessary and available information in advance of actually preparing a return, whether in person with a tax preparer or online.
- At a minimum, the IRS will need personal identifying information such as social security numbers and dates of birth for the filer, spouse, and all dependents, copies of last year’s tax return, and bank account and routing number if directly depositing funds.
- Additional necessary documentation includes all W-2’s, 1099’s, and other applicable income statements from alimony, rental property income, jury duty, and scholarships/tuition reimbursements.
- Adjustments to your income can lower the amount you owe and items may include student loan interest payments, energy saving home improvements (solar windows, energy efficient appliances), moving expense records when relocating for a new job, and records on Medical Spending Account contributions.
- Itemizing deductions offers a number of options to help lower the tax burden on individuals. If you are planning to itemize your deductions, documentation needed includes child care costs with provider name, tax ID and amount, Form 1098-T for education expenses, charitable donation amounts with receipts, medical/ dental expense records, and casualty/theft losses with amount of damage and insurance reimbursements.
- Taxes you’ve already paid is another opportunity to lower your Federal tax bill and can include expenses such as state and local sales tax, real estate taxes, and vehicle license fees based the tax, title, and license value of the vehicle.
While the above is a sample of the number of options to preparing, reducing, or organizing your taxes, the IRS offers a comprehensive checklist on their website here:
As the saying sometimes goes, “Out with the old, in with the new”, each New Year brings an opportunity for renewal, change, and growth. If getting organized ahead of time hasn’t always been a part of your annual tax season, now may be the perfect time to pull out the paint brush and create that perfectly “planned” and painted canvas! Save time and money!
-By Susan Amsler
January 10, 2017
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