Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:
Tax season has begun, and the tax filing deadline is quickly approaching. Here are a few top tips to help as you begin the tax filing process this year:
Gather your records. You'll need to gather all the documents or forms you'll need to file your taxes, including receipts, W-2s, 1099s and other documents.
Take advantage of e-file and direct deposit. The IRS reports that a majority of tax returns are filed electronically – last year, two out of three taxpayers used e-file. You can elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account. And if you e-file, you'll receive your refund in about half the time it takes when you file a paper return. In 2009, 73 million people chose direct deposit – it is a secure and convenient way to know that your refund is going directly to your bank account.
Double check your math (and your information). The IRS reminds taxpayers to verify all Social Security Numbers and math calculations, as these are the most common errors made by taxpayers.
Consider your filing options. As a taxpayer, you have plenty of different options to file your tax return. You can choose to prepare it yourself, or you may prefer to turn to a professional tax preparer. According to the IRS, 80 percent of Americans enlist the help of a tax preparer or tax software when filing their taxes. The IRS reminds taxpayers to choose a tax preparer with "care and caution." It's also important to remember that even if your return is prepared by an outside individual or firm, you are still legally responsible for what is filed with the IRS. Keep in mind that if your income is $57,000 or less in 2009, you may be eligible for free tax preparation software and free electronic filing. If your income was higher, you are eligible for Free File Fillable Forms. Visit www.irs.gov to learn more about Free File.
Get the tax information you need. The IRS Web site available at www.irs.gov has a wealth of information to help you. You can learn more about electronic filing, check the status of your refund, get tax forms and publications and get information about the latest tax law changes. The Web site is accessible all day, every day to help you with any questions you may have. The IRS even has a variety of YouTube videos on a variety of topics. Visit http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos to view these informative videos.
These financial tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. For more information go to www.iowabankers.com.