How to Get the Most Out of Your 2019 Tax Return
January 22, 2019 by Wes R. Kasik
Tax season is just around the corner, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting citizens lacking the preparation and organizational skills necessary to use the annual event for their financial advantage. If the right steps are taken, time allotted, and filing planned for, any professional can benefit from a well-executed tax return.
Below, we've put together five beginner tips to get the most out of your 2018 tax return. You can start filing taxes for the 2018 year beginning on January 28, 2019 until April 15, 2019 (April 17 for Maine and Massachusetts).
5 Tips for Maximizing Tax Returns
The first step, and one that should be ongoing, is the tracking and denotation of expenses and personal finances as a whole. If you find yourself struggling to get everything together this year, use this tip to maximize your return next year! Develop a system of receipt sorting, save statements, and keep records as detailed as you can manage. Tax professionals are in the field for a reason, but they are not magicians. They can't work with nothing. The more information you bring to the table, the better.
This practice is also useful when reviewing spending throughout the year. With long-term data, you can identify trends in your spending, good and bad, and more easily set goals for money coming in and out. If you have 't already taken this step, here are more measures you can take right now to maximize that return.
Be Mindful of Deductions
Whether you're a sole proprietor or a full-time employee with benefits, deductions are a great way to turn your expenses from the year into a more substantial tax rebate. For sole proprietors, business expenditures, from travel to food, WiFi and the water bill, are typically made from someone's wallet, not an invisible bottomless corporate account. In turn, all of these and many other basic daily necessities are eligible to be expensed for tax breaks, tipping scales ever so slightly in the favor of small business owners— just as the American dream intended.
These cases may require special attention during tax filing, and always necessitate a more thorough preparation of documentation and finances. This is where it helps to have been organized throughout the year, filing away receipts and keeping track of mileage to make for a more efficient return-filling experience.
Giving Feels Twice as Nice
You can typically deduct a large percentage of your adjusted gross income in charitable donations. These can come in the form of direct cash contributions, clothing drop-offs, and any other certified beneficiary capable of producing a donation receipt for your filing. This is a classic two-bird-one-stone scenario; both you and the charities you helped out during the year benefit from this move.
Take Your Time
Whether across the desk from hired help or navigating an online platform, you will be afforded a number of, sometimes complex, methods to reduce your tax obligation to the state and federal governments, thus increasing your total refund. These are unlocked with particular data sets from student loan interest statements, major life events, military service, and more. Most or all of these services and events will provide you with a tax statement of some kind before or during tax season for this very reason.
Be on the lookout for these important correspondences or print and save them for your records; have them on-hand when you file. Make a note, a real life paper or digital note, of events throughout the year that qualify. If you're filing online, leave enough time to read through every option, review every page, and check every box. If you're filing in-person, schedule a roomy block of time and bring coffee or lunch. This is not a process to be rushed.
Meet the Deadline
Yes, take your time in filing, but file on time. The most critical step is meeting the national deadline when filing your necessary paperwork. It may seem elementary, but, even after your own painstaking preparation, this step is usually best undertaken by a finance professional or trusted online tax service, like TurboTax. With it, you can start, stop, and save your work over a period of a few days. TurboTax's intuitive program ensures no excess time is wasted clicking in circles with tech support. TurboTax Live will also feature real CPAs that offer real-time help to users. A 2019 TurboTax coupon can help you save extra when filing this year.