The tax clock is ticking. Are you prepared?
Even if your tax return has been submitted, there’s a good chance others in the office are still pushing it to the last minute – especially if they owe taxes.
Last week we mentioned the IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” tax scams that last-minute tax filers should be well aware of. But it’s important they know the last-minute essentials as well.
Ernst and Young has prepared a 2013 Tax Guide that offers advice in nearly all aspects of tax filing season. However, with the tax season winding down, it’s time to pass along the most important information along.
Consider attaching these 10 tips, offered up by Ernst and Young to Accounting Today, with employees’ next paychecks or posting the information up in a busy traffic area, like the break room.
- Remember to deduct the cost of tax preparation software and/or publications.
- Don’t forget receipts. Deductions for cash contributions to charity need a bank record, such as a canceled check and a dated receipt from the charity (see more tips on charitable deductions below).
- There’s still time to make a contribution to your IRA.
- Always check the math. Even software won’t account for human error, so make sure you’ve input the correct numbers.
- Include your Social Security number on every page of the return so if any page is misplaced by the IRS it can be reattached.
- Write your Social Security number, form number and tax year on the face of checks made payable to the United States Treasury.
- Keep copies of all documents you send to the IRS.
- If you’re married, check to see what’s more beneficial: filing separate returns or a joint return.
- If you worked for more than one employer, see if you can claim a credit for any overpaid Social Security taxes withheld from your wages.
- The most important: Sign the return!
Bonus tips for deducting charitable gifts
Charitable donations can help lower tax liability, but only if you’re filing them correctly. The IRS offered their own set of tips for charitable deductions:
- The deduction must be to a qualified charitable organization, not individuals, political organizations or political candidates.
- Deductions must be itemized on Form 1040 Schedule A. If the total for the year for non-cash contributions exceeds $500, you must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, with the return.
- The value of any benefit to the taxpayer in return for the contribution must be deducted from the amount of the contribution.
- Stock and other non-cash property are usually valued at fair market value. Used clothing and household items must generally be in good condition to be deductible.
- To claim a deduction for gifts of cash or property worth $250 or more, there must be a written statement from the organization showing the amount of the cash or a description of any property given, and whether the organization provided any goods or services for the gift.