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Plan For Next Years Taxes, Starting Now

This year’s tax deadline may have come and gone already (Extenders you still have a little bit), but it’s never to early to start planning for next year. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do now to make next April 15 easier. (Yes it is actually April 15th in 2013 for your 2012 filings.)

  1. Adjust your withholding. Why wait another year for a big refund? Now is a good time to review your withholding and make adjustments for next year, especially if you’d prefer more money in each paycheck this year. If you owed at tax time, perhaps you’d like next year’s tax payment to be smaller.
  2. Store your return in a safe place. Put your 2011 tax return and supporting documents somewhere secure so you’ll know exactly where to find them if you receive an IRS notice and need to refer to your return. If it is easy to find, you can also use it as a helpful guide for next year’s return.
  3. Organize your record-keeping. Establish a central location where everyone in your household can put tax-related records all year long. Anything from a shoe-box to a file cabinet works. Just be consistent to avoid a scramble for misplaced mileage logs or charity receipts come tax time.
  4. Review your paycheck. Make sure your employer is properly withholding and reporting retirement account contributions, health insurance payments, charitable payroll deductions and other items. These payroll adjustments can make a big difference on your bottom line. Fixing an error in your paycheck now gets you back on track before it becomes a huge hassle.
  5. Consult a tax professional early. If you are planning to use a tax professional to help you strategize, plan and make financial decisions throughout the year, then contact a/your tax preparer now. You’ll have more time when you’re not up against a deadline or anxious for your refund.
  6. Prepare to itemize deductions. If your expenses typically fall just below the amount to make itemizing advantageous, a bit of planning to bundle deductions into 2012 may pay off. An early or extra mortgage payment, pre-deadline property tax payments, planned donations or strategically paid medical bills could equal some tax savings. 
  7. Strategize tuition payments. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which offsets higher education expenses, is set to expire after 2012. It may be beneficial to pay 2013 tuition in 2012 to take full advantage of this tax credit, up to $2,500, before it expires.

Each household’s financial circumstances are different so it’s important to fully consider your specific situation and goals before making large financial decisions. Feel free to contact me any time you have questions or concerns. Or visit my website L & R Tax Preparation.

© 2012, Bruce McFarland. All rights reserved.

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