February 22, 2010 at 11:48 am , by Cherise Bathersfield
With the IRS auditing more tax returns than it has in years (yikes!), and LHJ Facebook members already planning how to use their upcoming refunds, I thought it might be nice to get some tips that might up your chances of actually getting—and keeping—that refund. Financial planner and veteran H&R Block tax associate Wilma Hayes says patience, organization and research are the key.
Tax day is looming but don’t stress if your W-2 hasn’t arrived yet. It’s tax time for big business too so they could be bogged down in paperwork. Call at the end of the month if your mailbox is still empty.
If you’re not already, get organized. Create a “tax” space—a place in your home or office where you keep all your pertinent tax docs, and make a checklist of the documents and receipts that you have and those that are still pending. H&R Block offers a free checklist on their website.
Knowledge definitely is power when it comes to taxes. New tax laws can make a big difference from one year’s return to the next. If you’re tackling the tax monster yourself or even if someone else is doing the job, make sure to educate yourself. “There’s been a change to the first time home buyers credit, but you have to understand the criteria that make you a ‘first time home buyer,’” says Hayes. There’s also been a change to the charitable contributions deduction (you can donate to a charity this month and claim it on your return next month) and the education credits.
Also, if you’ve had a tough year, don’t assume that you’ll be left with empty pockets. For example, if you are employed now but were unemployed for part of the year, you can claim job search expenses like resume production costs and networking event fees.
Whatever your situation, with a little planning, this tax season can be a little less painful than the last!