BOSTON (CBS) – The IRS has some suggestions for working on your taxes.
Filing earlier is better. The IRS wants everyone to get a head start on tax preparation. They hate the last minute filings more than you do. Early filers not only avoid the last-minute rush, they get their refunds quicker. And even if you have someone else do your taxes for you, you need to organize your stuff.
Here are some suggestions from the IRS, with a bit of enhancement from me, to get a jump-start on your taxes before the April 17 deadline:
1. Gather up all of your paperwork. Make sure you have everything you need, including W-2s and 1099s. They should all have arrived by now. Make sure you have your receipts, cancelled checks and anything you need to prove a deduction.
2. Get the right forms. They’re available from the IRS’ website in the Forms and Publications section. If you don’t want to print them out you can order them online or call 800-829-3676. Check out the IRS’ newest tool “1040 Central”.
The IRS does not plan to send out forms to tax payers. It will save over $10 million so you will need to get the forms. Your local post office and library may have the forms you will need. The IRS is cutting back on printing so not all libraries and post offices will have all of the forms you need. They are trying to encourage e-filing.
3. Take your time. Break the job down into easy steps if you find it intimidating. Rushing can mean a mistake — and that can be expensive! Each of the forms will give you a rough estimate on how long it will take you to fill out that form.
4. Double-check your math and Social Security number. The most common mistakes on tax returns are incorrect Social Security numbers and poor addition and subtraction. Somebody will be checking them at the IRS and if incorrect your return will bounce. And don’t forget to sign your return! Too many get returned for not having a signature!
5. E-filing is easy. E-filing catches math mistakes, provides confirmation your return has been received and gives you a faster refund. The IRS wants you to file your taxes online. They even offer free filing on their website, but you must go thru their website to be eligible for the free filing.
6. Don’t panic. If you have a problem or a question, remember, the IRS wants to help. Really! That’s what they told me. Give their website a try or call their customer service at 800-829-1040. They don’t always answer in a timely manner but it is a free call……………well, sort of free. If you think about it we are paying the taxes that pay those phone bills!