Filing taxes at the last minute can be stressful, and many people may feel rushed to gather their forms, fill out their returns or meet with their tax preparer before the April 15 deadline. While getting taxes in before the deadline is crucial to avoiding fees and penalties, completing the process in a rush raises the likelihood for mistakes and can lead to lost opportunities to take notice of certain scenarios that may impact next year's returns. Therefore, going over all pertinent documents carefully is essential.
First and foremost, individuals should account for all of their necessary tax forms before venturing to the tax office. Tax professionals are busy the last few days before the deadline, and if people arrive and realize they left a 1099 form at home or information related to a deduction, they may be forced to push back their appointment and delay filing further. To avoid these hiccups, individuals should do a thorough check of all their forms before stepping out the door. While most people may remember their W-2 forms, a recent Forbes article notes that 1099s come in several different forms and can be easily forgotten. This includes 1099-INT for interest, 1099-DIV for dividends, 1099-G for tax refunds, 1099-R for pensions and 1099-MISC for miscellaneous income. Further, lenders may also send 1098 forms to record how much interest was paid during the tax year. As the IRS will match 1098s and 1099 forms against returns, it's important that all the information matches.
Tax professionals can help filers avoid current and future mistakes
Individuals should also seek guidance from a tax preparer before submitting information to the IRS. Those with complex returns may be required to attach explanations or disclosures on their returns, but providing too much information can actually lead to more, rather than less, scrutiny of a return, Forbes notes. A tax professional can help filers learn what information should be reported and whether any additional documents or forms need to accompany their return.
Many filers who are crunched for time may only be concerned about this year, and not think ahead to next year's tax season. However, taking the time to ask questions about whether their withholding status is favorable, if their retirement strategies are advantageous and whether their recordkeeping is organized can lead to a less stressful tax season in 2014, according to Money Rates. Therefore, individuals should take the time this year to ask their professional about tips that can help them lower their liability.
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