6 Steps to a Simple Tax Season
3. Get on the Same Page With Your Spouse
Whether you’re married, newly divorced or exes, talk to your current or ex-spouse about how you want to do your taxes this year.
If you’re married … you’ll need to decide which filing status to take: married filing jointly or married filing separately. (Look at our flow chart for help.) And if you decide to file jointly, make sure the person doing the taxes (you, your spouse or your accountant) has records and receipts from both of you.
If you got divorced this year … you still need to sync up with your ex on at least choosing a CPA to prepare your taxes. He can play mediator and make sure that you don’t overpay on your taxes or invite an audit because you aren’t talking.
If you’ve been divorced for some time … you still might want to get your ex on the phone. If you have kids, one of you might be able to claim head of household filing status for more favorable tax treatment. But only one of you can—the one who has the kids for more than half the year. If you both claim head of household, you will definitely get audited.
4. Contribute to Your IRA—Now!
The deadline to contribute to your IRA for the 2012 year is April 15, but if you wait until the last minute, you or the institution might make a mistake and dump your money in too late—and there go your tax savings. Wondering whether you should have an IRA? Check out our retirement guide.
5. File Online
Perhaps you have a Montblanc pen you’re itching to use, but it’s actually much easier and faster to file online. You can use low-cost filing software and never even touch an actual form. Plus, you’ll get your refund much faster than if you file on paper. Learn the exceptions to filing online.
6. Sign Up for the Ace Your Taxes Bootcamp
Sad news: Taxes will likely never be simple. (The U.S. tax code is currently 73,954 pages long.) Good news: We wrote an easy-to-read guide that walks you through the process. Updated for tax year 2012, our Ace Your Taxes Bootcamp tells you whether you need an accountant, if you should itemize and how to pay the lowest tax bill legally possible.
See what we’re talking about and sign up for free.