Spring is so, so close. Today’s melting snow puddles will soon give way to rainy sidewalks and blossoming buds. You can almost feel the weather getting warmer. And while you’re dreaming of spring weather on the horizons, you probably aren’t daydreaming about that other lingering springtime tradition: taxes.
Yes, tax season is coming quickly. The filing deadline for this year is April 17, 2018. Still months away, sure, but don’t let it sneak up on you. Get everything you need to file together now, so that when spring does come you’re spending your days admiring the flowers, not agonizing over forms.
Schedule an Appointment
If you choose to have a preparer do your taxes, book an appointment early. Many organizations have IRS-certified volunteers who can help you get a free return done. Prepare + Prosper provides high quality tax preparation and related financial services to individuals and families living with limited income. You may qualify if you make less than $35,000 filing as a single or $55,000 or less for families. You Claim It provides links to tax preparers outside of the Twin Cities metro area.
Prepare your Documents
Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need to prepare for taxes. Please note that not every item will apply to your household, but some general essentials include:
- Social Security number(s)
- Income-related documents (e.g. W-2s, 1099s)
- Expense-related documents (e.g. 1098s, childcare expenses)
Identify Status Changes
Did you buy a home this year? Get married or divorced? Have a child? If you experienced a major life event since the last time you filed, your filing status may have changed. Some ways to adjust your tax status
- Review your W-4 with your employer
- Schedule quarterly estimated taxes if you’re self-employed
- Set up automatic contributions to a retirement account
Make a Tax Refund Plan
If you are expecting a sizable refund, have a plan for what you would like to do with that money. What is the most beneficial way for you to invest your resources to bring you closer to your financial goals?
- Save it in a savings account for your emergency fund
- Contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
- Pay down any debts, such as credit card debt
Need help sticking to your plan? Prepare + Prosper also has a Money Mentor program to connect you with a financial coach who can help you get organized and stay motivated to reach your goals. Meeting with a P+P Money Mentor, up to 3 times, would qualify for Exodus Lending’s financial counseling incentive!
Taking time to make a plan and be well-prepared to tackle your tax returns early helps you maintain control of your finances and gives you more time to stop and smell the roses come April!
NOTE: Most changes from the new GOP tax plan won’t affect you until you file your 2018 taxes in April 2019.
Money Management E-Newsletter: February 2018