Tax Season 2015: Money-Saving Secrets Tax Preparers Won’t Tell You
Do you have to pay fees for a rushed refund? Are there deductions you’re missing out on? And should you have your taxes professionally prepared at all? Read on to find out important money-saving secrets tax preparers won’t tell you.
He Might Have Zero Training
Why give money to a stranger to prepare your taxes? Because you assume they know more than you. But that may not be true.
Tax preparation is a very unregulated field. According to The National Consumer Law Center, most hairdressers have to get more training than tax preparers.
Trust an unskilled preparer and you could be facing audits or even jail time.
Who Can You Trust?
Before you hand your taxes over to a stranger, make sure they have tax training.
Licensed CPAs (certified public accountant), IRS agents, trained volunteers and Tax Aides have the training that we all expect when we sit down at the desk.
You Might Be Able To File Yourself
Tax preparers keep it quiet, but a lot of us can successfully file our taxes with zero help at all.
The National Society of Accountants says that if you meet these standards, you might be wasting your money on a pro:
- You have only one job.
- Your tax status hasn’t changed since last year.
- You don’t own any property.
- You haven’t started a new business.
- You feel comfortable with numbers and forms.
That’s a lot of people.
They Might Be Overcharging You
Don’t assume that the big chains have the best prices. If your returns are simple, smaller independent preparers will offer you a better deal.
But no matter where you go, don’t agree to the services unless they’re willing to give you a ballpark you can use to compare prices.
Online, There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ride
Just say no to pop-up ads that say they’ll do your taxes for free. Only their most basic services are available at no cost. And you might expose yourself to spam by signing up.
You Might Qualify For Free Tax Preparation
But most tax prep experts will take your money without letting you know about programs like VITA.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance provides free IRS-trained tax preparers to anyone that makes less than $53,000 a year or is 65 or older. Search for your local office here. Or check out these other ways to get your taxes done for free.
You Don’t Have To Pay Fees To Get Your Refund Fast
Can’t wait three weeks? You don’t have to pay through the nose. Walmart has a Direct2Cash refund service that you can pick up in-store. They’ll even direct deposit it in just a few business days.
Never Assume You Can’t Write It Off
Food bloggers can write off food, exotic dancers can write off breast implants and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out haters can write off salt.
Keep your receipts and ask about everything that might be job related. You’d be surprised at how much you could be saving.
Never Be Afraid To E-File
Not only will you get your refund faster but you’re much less likely to file mistakes. Paper returns have a 20 percent error rate. E-file errors are closer to 1%.
You Can Get Free Tax Software Too
Earn less than $57,000 a year? You may qualify for the software offered by the IRS here. Don’t qualify? Everyone can use the IRS’ online forms.
Never Avoid Filing
The IRS hands out penalties for folks that fail to file and folks that fail to pay. But the penalty for not filing is much worse than not paying.
File anyway and you may be able to come to a compromise with the IRS and only pay a portion of what you owe.
Filing Late Can Hurt Your Credit
Those penalties add up quickly. If you don’t pay the taxes and the fees, the IRS can put a federal tax lien on your property. And that can negatively impact your ability to get credit.
You Can Get Your Childcare Money Back
If you have to pay for childcare so you can work, the government will reimburse you for up to 35% of the cost.
Always Review Your Forms
If your tax preparer makes a mistake, the IRS will still hold you legally responsible.