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Get a Jump on Tax Season!

January 15, 2020 — 4 min read

We understand that tax season can be a stressful time of year as individuals and business owners scramble to file their tax returns accurately and on time. Fortunately, if you're ready and aware of what to anticipate, you can feel confident knowing that your filings will be handled as smoothly as ever. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will accept and process federal tax returns starting Monday, January 27th. However, if you want to start working on your returns sooner, you can visit a tax preparer, go through the IRS Free File program, or use a tax software program. Here are a few additional tips to get ahead of the curve this tax season:

Choose a Preparer & Schedule an Appointment

If you don't have a tax preparer yet, now's the time to find one. To find a preparer, ask friends and advisers to make a referral, or contact us; we can help get you connected. Be sure that the person you choose has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Only those authorized to prepare federal income tax returns will have one. Also ask about fees, which will likely depend on the complexity of your return; steer clear of anyone taking a percentage of your refund. The IRS directory of preparers can help you search by qualification and location. The sooner you meet with your preparer, the sooner you can begin the process and make the mid-April deadline. Act quickly if you think you'll get a refund so you can receive your refund payment earlier.

Gather Your Information

By the end of January, you should receive most, if not all of the information you need to complete your tax return. For each form you receive, verify that the information matches your own records. Here are some of the most common forms*:
  • W-2: Filled out by your employer to document your earnings for the calendar year.
  • 1098: Reports mortgage interest (1098), student loan interest (1098-E), and tuition payments (1098-T).
  • 1099: There are several of these forms; they report all income that isn't salary, wages, or tips.
  • 1095-A: Reports information from the government marketplace from which you purchased health coverage.

Get Your Receipts Together

Which receipts you need depends on whether you choose to itemize your personal deductions instead of claiming the standard deduction. Most people will only choose to itemize their deductions if it gives them a better return. The only way to know for sure is to determine the amount of your itemized deductions and compare them with your standard deduction. If you are itemizing this year, gather any receipts that will qualify for a deduction. Make sure to look for receipts for medical costs not covered by insurance or reimbursed by any other health plan, property taxes, and job-related and investment-related expenses. If you have business income and expenses to report, you'll need to share your books and records with your tax preparer. The more organized you are, the less time it will take your preparer, which translates into lower fees and more money in your pocket.

Gather Records for Charitable Contributions

If you made donations to charity and want to itemize your deductions, you will need specific records to claim any write-offs. For example, for contributions of $250 or more, you need a written acknowledgement from the charity stating the amount of your gift and that you did not receive anything in return. If you're lacking acknowledgement, contact the charity and ask for it. You need it in hand by the time you file your return. Find details about the type of records needed for charitable deductions here.

Decide What to Do with Your Refund

Your tax refund could be the answer to owning your first home, moving up to a larger house/property, or making the leap to a new adventure. We offer a broad portfolio of mortgage products to choose from including conventional loans, FHA, VA, and USDA** loans. Let us help you put that tax refund to good use! Here are ways you can use your tax refund toward a home purchase:
  • Closing costs
  • Down payment
  • Moving costs
  • Future tax benefits

Contact us today or fill out the form below to learn more about the homebuying process!

Always consult a professional for questions regarding your specific financial situation.
*Note: This is not a complete list; the IRS has information on the many other types of forms you may need.
**For USDA Loans: Some state and county maximum loan amount restrictions may apply.
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