If you haven't yet filed your taxes, you have an itty-bitty amount of time left to do it — get hustling. This year's tax deadline is April 18 (the first Tuesday after April 15) and we can't recommend enough the importance of filing on time. Filing for an extension can be tempting but it just complicates things — more paperwork, confusing dates, etc. etc.. Filing late? Don't even think about it. Missing the deadline is a great way to spend some unnecessary cash on late fees. If you still have some tax homework to do, here are a few tips to live by. And if motivation is failing you completely, just remember: the quicker you file, the quicker that refund will be coming you way.
1. Pick the right software.
For those filing on their own, one of the scariest things about taxes is quite simply, how to start. Luckily there is a lot of software — TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct — to help us on our way. If you make less than $64,000 annually the IRS provides free software to use. So that's a plus!
2. Don't skimp on deductions.
Really, truly don't skimp on deductions. If you work from home, you can write off a portion of your rent. If you're buying office supplies, or work-related meals, or magazine subscriptions to keep you up-to-date on what's happening in your field — write those off too. All of these write offs are completely legitimate and reduce your taxable income. Just save your receipts so you have the proof if necessary.
3. Make sure you're putting money into a retirement account.
Just generally you should be saving money for retirement, and that wise-saving practice will also help you at tax time too. If you're lucky, you have a 401K through your job. But if you don't, make sure you're putting money into an IRA or Roth IRA account. The money put into these accounts is pre-tax, so that's even more money that you don't owe to the government.
4. If you make less than $50,000, don't forget about the Saver's Credit.
According to those in the know, this is the most overlooked tax break. This credit is another reason why you should be funding your retirement, as it's a credit applied to the first $2,000 in voluntary contributions that a person puts into retirement savings (i.e. an IRA or 401k). If you think you might qualify, this IRS page will give you the break down.
5. Schedule time to file.
This might sound super obvious but it's actually not: scheduling time to file your taxes is the best tip we could possibly give you and it's the one that many people always forget about. Block off a day on your calendar, and get really zen. It's probably going to be frustrating, it's probably going to take a while but you're going to get it done — but only if you block out the necessary time to do it.