So, the tax season begins. It will end on April 18th (note the date, because of a Washington DC holiday, the Tax Day was postponed from April 15th to April 18th).
Until then you have several things to do:
1. Gather information. Until the end of the month you’re supposed to receive all the documentation from your employer(s) – form W2, from your bank(s), investment broker(s) , mortgage servicing agencies, and various people whom you’ve provided services (all these will give you various types of form 1099), and other relevant documentation.
2. Write down your stock transactions. You need to detail them on your reports, so take the time and write down the purchase and sale dates, the base cost price, sale price, profits and losses, including the transaction fees. Some brokerage agencies provide this information automatically, starting of 2011 they’ll have to. But if your broker doesn’t yet provide it for 2010 – you’ll have to write it up yourself.
3. Write down all your expenses that can be claimed as itemized deductions. Sum it up and see how much total itemized deductions you can claim. This will help you deciding whether you need to itemize or not.
4. Find a good accountant, if you still don’t have one. If you think you can fill the forms by yourself – you can skip this costly step, but if you’ve never filed taxes before, or your situation is not as standard as an average American (for example, you have a lot of stock transactions, a couple of jobs or a freelance business) – you’d better get a professional advice. My advices are by no means professional!
5. Check various tax calculators. TPC Tax Calculator will show you the differences in the various changes of the tax laws past recently. TurboTax TaxCaster will allow you to estimate your tax return amounts. There are many more.
Be prepared, and make sure you file on time, and to ensure prompt refund – consider filing on-line.
Your Little Advisor