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5 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Taxes

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If you’ve already crossed filing this year’s taxes off your list…congratulations! And if you’re in the company of 25% of Americans who wait until the last minute? Don’t panic. Here are five suggestions to help reduce your IRS stress.

1. Get Organized

Save yourself time by gathering all applicable tax documentation beforehand, including receipts and interest statements. Some common forms include:

  • W-2: Wage and Tax Statement
  • W-4: Employee Withholding Certificate
  • 1040: US Individual Income Tax Return (1040-SR: U.S. Tax Return for Seniors)
  • 1099: Miscellaneous Income (looking for your VACU 1099-INT? Check out our tax FAQs here.)
  • 1098: Mortgage Interest Statement (1098-T: Tuition Statement)

2. File Online

Choosing to file a paper tax return can translate to weeks or even months of delays. Even if you’re not expecting a refund, e-filing is the best option for prompt processing. If you’re a Virginia Credit Union member, you can get a discount on TurboTax. If you prefer to get help with filing, VACU members can also take advantage of an HR Block discount. The IRS also offers free filing which nearly 100 million Americans opted for last year. (Note that some IRS Free File providers do charge a fee for state tax preparation.)

3. Double-Check Deductions

It’s easy to overlook opportunities for tax deductions, especially if you experienced major life transitions during the year such as purchasing a home or vehicle, taking out a home equity line of credit, or starting a new job. Among the most overlooked tax deductions that can help you pocket more money are contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contributions to a traditional IRA. (Roth IRA contributions won’t trim your tax bill but do allow you to max out the limits for retirement saving.)

4. Avoid Common Errors

Before filing, make sure you’ve reviewed your personal information such as your Social Security number, employer identification numbers, calculations, and signature/date to ensure that your return doesn’t have any last-minute mistakes. Minor errors can result in a rejected return and/or a delayed refund.

5. Consider an Extension

If making it before midnight on the April 15 deadline is a hurdle, you can request an automatic tax-filing extension. Filing this form gives you until October 15 to submit your tax return. There’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re receiving a refund, but if you owe tax, late payment by even one day can result in penalties and interest.

Maximize Your Refund

If you’re anticipating a refund this season, be sure to make a plan for that money before it arrives. Watch Get Smart About Saving and consider using your refund – or at least a portion – to establish an emergency fund or save up for vacation.

Content provided in part by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit. 

Savings Services from VACU can help you prepare for your long-term plans - or an unexpected expense.