Earlier is usually always better. This is especially true when it comes to filing your tax return. The IRS encourages individuals every year to get an early start on tax preparation.

Not only do you get a faster refund, but you also avoid the last-minute rush and dodgy identity thieves. Identity fraud is one of the top concerns among the IRS. Be proactive and use these 5 tax help tips to help you stay ahead in your taxes.

  1.    Ensure all your records are together. 
    Things happen throughout the year. We get it! You may work multiple jobs, get married, or have a child. What about changing health insurance, buying a house, starting a side hustle, etc…Oftentimes these lifestyle events can mean additional paperwork and tax documents. Take the time to evaluate your previous year. Determine which tax forms you should be expecting and from whom. These can include W2s, 1099, Bank Statements, etc. The worse feeling is having your taxes completed and filed and getting that additional W2 in the mail. The next step is either auditing your tax return or waiting anxiously for the IRS to point out your mistake. Often in the form of fines.
  2.    Know which tax forms you need.
    Are you planning to itemize deductions? Were you self-employed a portion of the year? Were you enrolled at least half-time in an accredited higher learning institution? Depending on your individual situation, a number of tax forms may be needed to adequately reflect your tax deductions and liabilities. Always consider and take advantage of all the tax credits you are eligible for.
  3.    Don’t rush the process.
    Take your time. Filing your tax return should never be something you complete in a rush. It can result in an expensive and time-consuming mistake. If you feel you don’t have the patience needed to thoroughly complete your return, it is often best to turn to a trusted advisor. Ask friends or colleagues for a good referral. This is almost always one of the best ways to find a great specialist in any area!
  4.    Review your tax return for errors. 
    The most common errors found on tax returns are social security numbers and math errors. Check these things first. Also be sure to always document your name as it appears on your social security card. All electronically filed returns are matched against the social security administration to validate identity. Taking care of these details prior to sending your return off reduces your chances of hearing bad news from the IRS down the line.
  5.    Get the fastest refund.
    Of course, when you file early, you get your refund faster. If you e-file your return and elect for direct deposit, you can expect your refund in about half the time as you would paper filing. Now that’s fast!

If you have questions or would like to speak with one of our tax professionals about your situation.