Tax season is here again! For tax professionals like me, this is a happy season. For almost everyone else, it’s a time of year they wish should they could skip. However, since no one has come up with a way to avoid life’s inevitabilities – taxes are one of them- let’s at least try to make the best of it. Here are my quick tips to take advantage of some of the tax perks available to you and to make the process of filing your tax return as painless as possible.
- Don’t miss important deadlines: Individual and C Corporation income tax returns are due April 17th. Other entity tax structures have a deadline of March 15th, and if your company is incorporated in Delaware, you must file the Delaware franchise tax return by March 1st.
- Get organized: There is still time to get your finances in order in time for your income tax return due date. If you didn’t use a software application to track your finances and receipts, you can still log those financial transaction that will impact your income tax return using Excel and scan your receipts to a cloud-based storage application for easy sharing with your tax professional. Don’t forget to include your charitable contributions!
- List important live events: Believe it or not, more life-changing events impact our taxes than we think. Marriage, divorce, legal separations and having a baby are just a few on the list. However, think about the not-so-obvious ones, like caring for your elderly parent, the death of a spouse or parent, relocating for work and buying or selling a home. Be sure to make your tax professional aware of these changes so that he or she can assess their impact on your taxes.
- Schedule a call or meeting with your tax professional: This is especially important if you are using a new tax professional for your 2017 taxes. The earlier he or she gets to know you, the more time you have to get to know each other and to exchange important information about your tax situation. Make sure to have with you a list of questions and other information you want to discuss during this meeting.
- Set up a retirement plan: Subject to some limitations, you might qualify for a Roth or Traditional IRA retirement account and the good news is that you have until April 17th to open a new account and make contributions for the previous year. If you own a small business, you have until the filing of the business returns (including extensions) to set up and contribute to a SEP IRA.
- Don’t forget to deduct: Your health insurance premiums if you are self-employed, and job searching expenses (subject to some limitations) if you were searching for a job in your field.
- Don’t forget to claim: The lifetime learning credit if you took any courses to improve your post-secondary education.
As always, happy tax filing season!