Filing Right

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for accountants. For the rest of us, tax time is stressful, scary and sometimes overwhelming. Take back control with these key tips.

1. Modern Era: Get with the 21st Century. When it comes to taxes, e-filing is a good option, if you have a straight-forward tax situation. For those who are eligible, it’s simple, easy and best of all, gets you that all-important refund that much faster.



2. Key Error: Whatever else you might screw up, make sure you get your filing status straight. Entering the wrong one can cost you thousands, as well as putting you at the top of the list for an audit. A savvy accountant always comes in handy.



3. Powerful Knowledge: Knowing your exemptions is the key to lowering your tax bill. Have kids? They count. And you may have other dependents who do as well. To see if they qualify, talk to your accountant.




4. Choose Wisely: Most of us opt for the standard deduction when filing, but if you’ve got extensive medical expenses, mortgage interest payments or make charitable donations, do the math — you may be better off itemizing.



5. Time’s Up?: Running out of time? The IRS will let you file for an extension…on the paperwork. But you better make sure any money that you owe is paid in full and on time. Make an estimate and send that check in.



6. Big Scam: “Rapid Refund”…sounds nice, doesn’t it? But companies offering rapid refunds are essentially giving a loan on your tax refund, and generally charge a nasty interest rate.




7. Danger Zone: If you do get that dreaded audit notice, don’t panic. Audits don’t necessarily mean you’ve screwed up, or that you’ll be fined. Keep good records throughout the year, be honest, have a great accountant and you’ll get through fine.



8. Important Allies: For many Americans, taxes are simple and straightforward enough to do at home with basic tax preparation software, but it’s always infinitely more beneficial to get help from a professional, reputable accountant in order to make sure you get the most out of each filing and to ensure that you’re doing everything correctly and don’t miss any vital steps.