Plan and Retire

7 Simple Tax Season Tips

Erin Palmer

January 14, 2019

Tax Time

Tax season is here! Some people worry about the filing process and others are already daydreaming about how they’ll spend their refunds.

No matter how you handle tax season, these simple tips can help you save money and make it a stress-free experience.

Get Organized

Before you begin, take time to gather your necessary documents and get organized. This will make it much easier when it’s time to file. This includes your tax documents, proper forms of ID and other documentation for deductible expenses.

You will need to have wage and earning statements from all of your jobs, like W-2s and 1099-Rs. You should also have documents that show other relevant deductibles, like student loan interest, retirement account contributions, daycare costs or work expenses.

If you are getting your taxes done, the preparer can let you know what you will need to bring. If you are preparing your own taxes, gather these things before you begin to make the process faster.

You May Be Able to Get Free Tax Assistance

Many people miss out on refunds each year because they don’t understand the process. It can be confusing! But qualified taxpayers can get free tax assistance with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

VITA offers basic income tax returns at no cost for people with a yearly income of $54,000 or less. This program also helps people with disabilities and taxpayers who speak limited English and require help to file their taxes.

There is also a Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program that provides free tax assistance for those 60 years and older. TCE specializes in pensions and retirement-related tax issues.

To find out more about these programs, see if you qualify or learn what you should bring with you to your appointment, call 2-1-1 for your local United Way office. You can also learn more on the IRS website.

Discounts are Available for Some Tax Services

Even if you don’t qualify for free tax prep, you may be able to get discounts on tax services. Some tax preparation centers offer deals and incentives during tax season. These offers are usually advertised, so they’re easy to find.

If you’d prefer to prepare your own tax return, you may be able to get discounts on tax preparation software through your financial institution. These offers vary, so check with your financial institution to see if any discounts are available.

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You Can Check Your Refund Status for Free

After your taxes are filed, it’s time to await your refund. For many, this part is not so fun!

Instead of constantly checking your bank balance or calling your tax preparer, you can check the status the status of your refund for free through the IRS. Simply go to the IRS Refunds page and use the “Check My Refund Status” tool to see your filing status.

Protect Yourself from Tax-Related Scams

One of the worst parts of tax season is the inevitable uptick of tax-related scams that occur. You should file your taxes as soon as possible to help protect yourself against identity theft.

Remember that the IRS will not ask for your credit or debit card information over the phone. They also don’t ask for immediate wire transfers or payments through gift cards or prepaid debit cards. If you get threats on social media or through text message that claim to be from the IRS, keep in mind that they do not use these method of communication.

When in doubt, DO NOT GIVE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION. Go to or call your local office if you have any questions.

Staying informed about tax scams can also help you know what to look out for. New scams are created all of the time, so it’s important to stay alert.

Pay Attention to Tax Reforms

Every tax season, make it a habit to go over any new tax reforms that have come into play from the previous season. These reforms could impact you and your family, so take a moment to review them at the start of tax season.

Some years may have no changes or include changes that do not impact you. But it is always a good idea to stay up to date on the latest tax legislation.

It’s Easy to Maximize Your Refund

When your tax refund arrives, you may be tempted to go on a shopping spree or make a major purchase. But with a little patience, you can maximize your tax refund and end up with higher earnings.

All you have to do is use your tax refund to open up a share certificate account. These are savings accounts where the funds remain in the account for a specific amount of time. Your deposits will grow more over time because these accounts often yield higher returns than a typical savings account.

So you can choose the share certificate with a term that works for you and watch your tax refund grow!

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