How to Prepare for Tax Season

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Posted on 01/21/2009

Tax season is kind of like your spouse’s birthday. It comes around the same time every year, yet it always catches you off-guard. Whether it’s a dreaded experience that has you dreaming of being in the dentist’s chair rather than at your accountant’s office or an exciting time that gives you the feeling of being a lottery winner, there are things you can do to be prepared for tax season.

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Collect Paperwork
W-2s and tax forms are probably coming in the mail. Be mindful of where you put them. Dedicate a folder or a drawer for everything tax related. That way you won’t be scouring your house, car and office for crucial information. Start gathering up receipts and necessary paperwork that you’ll need to file your taxes. Wondering what paperwork is necessary? Here’s a list of some of the things you will need to file your return:
• W-2s from employers
• Homeowners need a record of mortgage interest they’ve paid
• Calculate rent paid during tax year
• Interest-income statements
• Personal property tax information
• Gifts to charity
• Childcare Expenses

Anticipate Errors
People make a lot of them. Almost makes you wish you paid more attention in Econ 101. Double check everything, but especially the areas where mistakes are commonly made. MSN Money gives you a heads up of the most commonly missed deductions. Remember-- even if you hire someone to do your taxes for you, you are responsible for any errors.

Find a Pro
Not everyone is good with numbers. Why not enlist the help of a tax expert? It’s hassle-free and you’ll get your refund as fast as possible. Plus, many tax preparers offer to review last year’s tax return for free to see if they can get you more money. If you fill out this online form, H&R Block will send you a coupon so you can save $20 on tax preparation services.

Try Tax Prep Software
If you want a less expensive route, try picking up some tax preparation software. Buy.com is offering discounts on popular software like TaxCut or TurboTax. Prices start at just $19.99, which is much less than you’ll pay an expert.

By Alison Storm

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