Preparation is Everything

2020 has been anything but predictable. Therefore, we wanted to focus on something that you can always expect at the beginning of every year, taxes! Below, the John Z Home Loan Team put together some helpful tax prep tips and reminders to ensure your tax season goes as expected or even better.

Tax Prep Tips

How to File a Tax Return – Hire a professional or do it yourself?

This is an important part of your tax filing as there could be numerous amounts of forms you will need in order to file properly. Ie: individualized tax return (1040), forms from banks or other financial institutions you paid taxes on, miscellaneous income if you are self-employed (1099), or even forms to submit for your business. By choosing a tax preparer, first and foremost, you want to ensure they are authorized to prepare federal income tax returns by having a unique Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). You want to also ask how the tax preparer calculates their fees as it can determine how much comes out of your return.

By filling yourself, you can save yourself on fees and can gain some financial insight. However, if you have a complicated return that requires to you complete multiple forms, make sure you fully understand the entire procedure. Otherwise, you may be better off with the assistance of a professional.

tax prep tips

Electronic Returns

Another tax prep pro-tip is to confirm that the service can file your return electronically. Electronic returns will allow a more expedited return with less chance of errors.

Tax Prep Tips from the John Z Home Team

Gather Documents

Be thorough in finding and organizing your documents, statements, and receipts before seeing your CPA or tax preparer. A little organization will make your life easier and your return more accurate. Many sites have free checklists to make sure you have everything you need to file.

Tax Prep Tips from the John Z Home Team

Count Deductions

The most lucrative tax prep tip is to thoroughly count your taxable deductions. With tax laws ever-changing and as the arena of deductions broadens based on your filing status, deductions are easy to miss. Here is a list of frequently forgotten deductions that can help strengthen your tax return.

Frequently Forgotten Deductions

1. Student loan interest deduction
2. Tuition and fees deduction
3. Educator expenses (for teachers or childcare)
4. Moving expenses for members of the military
5. Travel expenses for military reserve members
6. Half the self-employment tax
7. Retirement savings for self-employed individuals
8. Health insurance premiums for self-employed workers
9. Home office deductions (be thorough)
10. Early withdrawal penalties from a CD
11. Deduction for personal property rental
12. The medical expense deduction
13. The SALT deduction (State and local tax)
14. Mortgage interest deduction
15. Charitable contribution deductions

The IRS Tax deadline is April 15th, 2021. Happy filing!

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