February 8, 2013 : Sandy Smith - Guest Contributor
Filing in February: Save Time and Money in the Shortest Month
Ed Note: It’s the shortest month of the year and we’re all about making every minute count. The brilliant Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap is back on Block Talk to share a few tips on filing taxes in February quickly and, yes, cheaply. Enjoy.
With only 28 days in the month, February will whiz by in a blur and the April 15th tax filing deadline will be upon you before you know it. We’re all busy people these days, and with little time to spare, filing your taxes can be a quick and easy process.
That being said, here are some tips to help you save time and money in the shortest month of the year.
Gather All of Your Documentation
By now you are probably in possession of your W-2 form and/or 1099 forms since your employer was required to mail these by January 31st. That doesn’t mean that one of your forms hasn’t been lost in the mail, especially if you’ve moved. Before seeing your tax professional, check to see if you’ve received tax statements from everyone including your employer, banks, mortgage lender, and schools to which you paid tuition. Getting all of your information together ahead of time can save you multiple trips to your tax professional and potential revisions to your tax filing.
Are you clueless about what paperwork you’ll actually need to take along with you? To keep you on track, H&R Block pulled together this handy checklist: What Do I Need to Bring to My Tax Appointment?
If you’ve lost a random tax document or two and can’t remember who it was from, the IRS may be able to help you. Contact the IRS for assistance after February 15th at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city and state, including zip code, Social Security number and phone number.
File Your Taxes Early
Did you know that H&R Block is offering free filing of your 1040EZ if completed by February 15th? Not only will you save money, but it will reduce your risk of becoming a victim of the quickly rising return tax fraud in 2012. The IRS estimates that it paid out over $754 million in suspicious tax refunds in 2012. By filing early, your risk of becoming a victim of this crime will be greatly reduced.
Stop Filing Paper Tax Returns
As someone who has done her own taxes since she made enough money to file, I remember the bad old days filled with lots of paper, instruction booklets and forms. Back then, you almost needed a PhD to figure out which page in the instruction booklet corresponded to the question on the form. It was a headache inducer and a major waste of time. In came the 21st Century with plenty of easy-to-use online programs, including H&R Block At Home™, which do-it-yourselfers can use to file both federal and state taxes without paper and without two aspirins.
Have Your Tax Refund Direct Deposited
If you’re due a tax refund, why wait for a paper check to be mailed to you? Save yourself both the waiting time and an unnecessary trip to the bank to cash your check by using direct deposit. If your return is filed electronically, you may receive your federal tax refund in as little as one week! The best part? It’s free and there is no chance of your check being lost or stolen in the mail.
If you do not have a bank account, you have not been left behind! Your tax refund can be loaded onto a prepaid debit card such as the H&R Block Emerald Card. Having your funds directed to an Emerald Card is typically the fastest way to receive your proceeds (refund minus tax prep fees), as H&R Block will load your card directly and does not need to ACH your funds to another bank or have you come back into the office to pick up a check. H&R Block will even notify you when your funds are loaded onto your card and ready to spend.
Tax filing does not have to be a slow and painful process. By following the above tips, you can save both time and money while laughing all the way to the bank. Do you have any other tips to save time and money when filing?