- Set aside a little time each week to make progress well in advance of the filing deadline. Too late this year? Commit to starting earlier next year.
- Double check your tax return for simple errors to avoid refund delays.
- Tax season attracts scammers eager to profit off financial information changing hands. Make sure every step you take online is completely secure.
It’s OK if you don’t have every receipt and statement in perfect order and ready to go right this second. Start setting aside a little time each week to make progress well in advance of the filing deadline. Common items include statements that cover:
1. Tax tip: Start getting organized.
- Employment income
- Self-employed business income and expenses
- Unemployment compensation
- Investment income
- Retirement plan contributions
- Health savings account (HSA) contributions
- Proof of health insurance
- Mortgage, home equity loan, and home equity line of credit (HELOC) interest
- Charitable donations
You might be surprised to learn that problems with the timely processing of tax returns are often due to simple taxpayer errors. As you’re putting your documentation together and filling out forms, it’s worth making sure:
2. Tax tip: Check and double-check.
- All names are spelled correctly
- Social security, account, and routing numbers are accurate
- You’ve signed and dated everywhere required
- You haven’t overlooked a source of income like a part-time gig
3. Tax tip: Keep your guard up.During the process of completing a tax return, a lot of personal information changes hands between taxpayers, tax preparers, and the IRS. Scammers are just waiting to grab social security numbers and financial account information from an email or unsecure online form. Some scammers even specialize in filing tax returns in other people’s names to intercept the refund.
Make sure every step you take online is completely secure. Avoid sending sensitive information over email and look for evidence that the websites and portals you’re planning to use have security features like strong passwords, data encryption, and network firewalls.
If an “IRS agent” calls you, think twice about providing them with any information—and definitely don’t give them money. Instead, get their name, identification number, and contact information. Run the situation by your tax preparer or reach out to the IRS.