It's just weeks away - that ominous date that looms out there in the not-so-distant future. April 15, or federal tax filing deadline day as most folks know it. By the end of January you'll likely have all the documentation necessary to file your 2010 income tax return. One thing you may have noticed this year is that the IRS is no longer mailing requested paper forms to people. If you want tax forms, you'll need to go online at here or here and download the forms you need from there.
The Advantage of Good Record Keeping
You have heard it a=said a million times, keep those receipts, records of purchases, tax forms, loan documents, etc. Most institutions or companies are going to send you the proper forms for your various accounts or employment. Keep track of these because you will need them when filing your tax return.
It might be good idea to keep a sort of loose expense journal where you can just jot down all the money you have spent each day. You will discover that this type of detailed record keeping is much easier if done each day, or every few days. Going back and trying to piece together all your records from the previous year might be difficult. Make a new year's resolution to start keeping 2011 records now. That way, when you file your taxes next year, you will not be trying to catch up.
Filing Taxes Jointly or Separately
If you don't know what that means. you would probably be smart to consult with a CPA or professional tax advisor to see which option is best for your particular situation. If you do know what that means, then get out a pen and paper and figure out which type of filing will be the most advantageous for your situation. Sometimes, the right type of filing can mean the difference of $1,000 or even more. It might pay to make sure you are doing this to get the most money back from your tax refund.
Using a Pro or Going It Alone
There is certainly nothing wrong with doing your own taxes. A lot of people certainly do it, but a good number of those who prepare their own taxes also make a lot of mistakes. Even with all the great tax software program available out there, some mistakes are still made. Mistakes that can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year. Weigh this against the relatively small fee you would pay to a professional tax preparer or CPA to do your taxes for you.
The tax code is impossibly huge and the federal government adds more to it every year. A pro keeps up with all that stuff and will know how to get the most from your return. If I didn't make myself clear, let me say it again - a great investment would be hiring a tax pro. Or clearer still - hire a tax pro or CPA.