away the Christmas decorations and swept up all that confetti left
over from New Year's. NOW it's time to work on that "elephant in
the living room" - your taxes.
But like any large task that faces us, this one can be whittled
down to size by planning ahead and using the tools at our disposal.
To that end, the IRS has issued its Top 10 Tax Tips, and they're
hot off the press.
1. Gather your records. Yes, you've heard
that from us before. But it works. Start now to corral those
documents you'll need to file your taxes: receipts, canceled checks
and any other pieces of paper that help make your case for
2. Watch your mailbox. Your W-2 and 1099
forms will be arriving soon and you certainly don't want to
accidentally dump them in the trash with the supermarket ad
3. Get your team together. Check out your
possible sources for tax advice and calculators. Our site, for
example, has some great tax calculators that can help you figure
out your best withholding choices and much more. Another good
source is the IRS website's Interactive Tax Assistant. You can get
straight answers to questions on deductions, credits and general
filing - all straight from the horse's mouth.
4. Do the Free File. If you made less
than $57,000 last year, you qualify to use the IRS' Free File
feature, where you can file a straightforward tax return for free -
nada, zippo, not-a-red-cent. Be sure to look for 1040.com's site on
the Free File page for a smooth and easy tax filing experience.
5. E-file for peace of mind. The easiest,
safest - and fastest - way to file your taxes is to send the return
electronically. Nearly 80 percent of taxpayers used IRS e-file last
year; that's over 100 million people. If you have a refund coming,
remember that about 98 percent of electronic filers get their
refunds by direct deposit in 14 days if their returns don't have
any problems. Some refunds may be issued in as little as 10 days.
But if you owe taxes, you can also take advantage of e-filing, with
payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline.
That way, you don't worry if the IRS got your check.
6. Don't hesitate to go for the pros. If
you have a more complex tax picture, you might want to enlist the
help of a tax professional. And even if your tax profile is
straightforward, you can take advantage of the thousands of
volunteer tax preparers around the country. Check with your local
IRS office for their locations.
7. Direct deposit means fast cash. If you
elect to have your refund deposited electronically into your
checking account, you'll get it much faster than those folks
waiting on a check.
8. Get the owner's manual for taxes.
Download Publication 17, the IRS' Tax Guide; it's the starting
point for all sorts of tax returns, simple to complex. You can
download the PDF here.
9. Browse the IRS website. Go to www.irs.gov for
publications, tips, answers to questions and detailed instructions
for specialized forms. You can also find support information for
IRS offices and lots of income tax support tools.
10. Take your time! Rushing through your tax
return only increases the chances for a mistake. And a mistake will
slow down the processing of your return. As a rule of thumb,
double-check all the Social Security Numbers used in your return,
as well as account numbers used for direct deposit. If you're
filing a paper return, go over your math a second time, just to be
sure. And if you do get hung up, whether filing a paper return or
electronically, remember to seek help from the IRS. Go to www.irs.gov first,
and if you can't find what you're looking for, call the IRS Help
Line at 1-800-829-1040.