Kelly Bullis: Tips for preparing your own tax return
As flattered as I am, I must disappoint some friends when they come to me and ask a tax question. Unfortunately, I have not been able to memorize all 4 million lines of U.S. Tax Code. Recently added to all that is the New Trump Tax Law (now in it’s second year) which was designed to make it easier for many folks to prepare their own returns.
When you embark on the adventure of self preparing your own tax return, here are some “Tips” to help guide you.
First Tip: Start early, don’t wait until April 10 to begin. Being in a rush usually is the single most contributor to avoiding problems with the Second Tip.
Second Tip: Be aware of decisions you need to make regarding your filing status (Head of Household is a biggy for many folks that can be easily missed), tax credits (such as child tax credit, credit for child care, higher education credit, energy credit, and earned income credit). Just Google each topic and you will find plenty of articles and helpful information. You can also go directly to the IRS.gov website, search the topics there. (Beware, the IRS has a way of wording explanations that have been known to send a sane person screaming off into the desert.)
Third Tip: Make sure you have the right tax forms. Once again, the best source is to go to the website, IRS.gov and search, then print out the forms. There are almost always a set of instructions that you can download and read as well. (Here’s a free extra tip. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, get up, start reading one of the IRS instruction publications, I guarantee you will be falling asleep before you get to page 2.)
Fourth Tip: Math check your return if you’re paper filing. (If you are attempting to use a software program, usually they will eliminate this problem, but still do some basic checking to make sure the right numbers were input, etc.)
Fifth Tip: Put your checking account information at the bottom of page 2 so you can get your refund MUCH faster. (Paper check refunds take up to six weeks, direct deposit refunds have been going in about 1-2 weeks after the IRS receives your return.)
Sixth Tip: Make a copy of the return you are filing for your records. You might need it for applying for a loan, etc. (You would be amazed at how many folks are so happy to drop the return in the mail box that they forget to make a copy for themselves.) Also, make sure you sign and date the copy you are sending to the IRS.
Of course, when you get too bogged down and decide to hire a professional preparer, keep in mind that there is nothing to be ashamed of to just pay somebody to do it for you.
Did you hear? Prov 24:27 says, “Prepare your work outside, and get your fields ready. Afterwards, build your house.”
Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 882-4459. On the web at BullisAndCo.com Also on Facebook.