While there were a number of people who filed their taxes as soon as possible once the new year began (likely because they were sure they had a refund coming their way), there are others who wait. Perhaps they’re waiting on their W-2, trying to get all their receipts together, or searching for the gullible accountant friend or family member to help them file. If you’re finally ready to file and to do so on your own, we talked to CPA and tax expert Lisa Greene-Lewis of TurboTax to give a few tips on the best way to go about doing your own taxes, what deductions to claim, receipts to keep and how to avoid owing year after year.
In the Future, File Your Taxes Sooner Rather Than Later
The biggest reason is the refund. About 72 percent of tax payers received a refund close to $3,000 last tax season and the IRS expects to issue nine out of 10 tax refunds within 21 days or less. So you want to file as soon as possible to get your refund.
You Can Never Overdo It With Tax Deduction Claims
Less than one percent of taxpayers are audited, so if you have tax deductions that you’re eligible for, you should definitely claim them. Deductions if you have kids, so for their child care you could claim that. If you’re self-employed, don’t hesitate to claim tax deductions that are directly related to your business.
These Are the Receipts You Should Keep Track Of
You want to keep receipts for any expenses you’re deducting. So if you donated to charity, you should have a receipt or something showing what you donated if it’s $250 and over. If you have childcare expenses, you want to have documentation. You don’t have to submit it with your tax return, but you want to hold on to that receipt. And then if you’re self-employed, receipts for your expenses.
You Can Still Get Some Help Even When Doing Your Own Taxes
So now, TurboTax, we have CPAs and enrolled agents available to you in the comfort of your home. You don’t have to go anywhere. So if you do have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to our TurboTax Live CPAs and enrolled agents, who have an average of 15 years experience. And our TurboTax Live CPAs and enrolled agents are available in English and Spanish, and they can also review, sign and file your return.
The More Deductions for Freelancers and/or Independent Contractors, the Better
There’s so many tax deductions that you can take for your business expenses. So if you travel for your business, or even for advertising or website development, you can take those expenses. Also your home office, that can be worth a big deduction. And then also there’s a new deduction for self-employed [people]. As of tax year 2018 it’s 20 percent qualified business income deduction.
Update Your W-4 If You Want to Avoid Owing Year After Year
If you owed last year, you want to revisit your W-4 form and you should do that if you had any life changes or increase in income; changes in your family and also with changes in tax laws. You should always revisit it and update your W-4 form and update your withholding.
If you have questions or want more tips, go to TurboTax.com.