Happy New Tax Year! Yes, 2017 is here, much to the relief of many folks who couldn't see 2016 end soon enough.
And while we might be glad to be done with the last 12 months for whatever reason, we are not done with 2016 taxes. Some of you will complete this tax task quickly, filing as soon as you get all the necessary documentation.
Others (me) will file later in the season, even waiting until the very last minute -- which this year is April 18; details in the first Daily Tax Tip below -- to fill out their 1040s or get an extension (me, again).
Whichever filing timetable you use, the annual collection of Daily Tax Tips is here to help.
These bits of tax information each weekday are designed primarily to help us file our 2016 tax returns.
But since tax filing season for the prior year overlaps with the current tax year, some of the Daily Tax Tips will offer info on cutting our 2017 tax bills.
Weekdays only: Just like last year the Daily Tax Tips will be posted Monday through Friday. Yes, I'm taking weekends mostly off, especially since the hubby has now cut back on his own workload. Yep, we're thinking about/edging toward retirement!
Plus, I can tell by my daily reader reports that's what most of y'all are doing, too! Good for all of us for having a balanced life.
So I'm sticking with the weekday only tips again this year.
Casting a wider tip net: This year I'm trying something new. In addition to tax tips that I write, I'll be featuring tax advice from other folks.
There's a whole wide world of great tax and personal finance bloggers and writers out there, so it makes sense for me to share some of their insight, too.
And, as I mentioned earlier, it allows me to be lazy work smarter by sharing those items rather than creating it on my own.
Old, new, touched-up tips: In addition to finding the tips for January listed here (and February, March and April tips on their own pages as those months arrive), the Daily Tax Tips will be highlighted at the top of the ol' blog's right column.
Long-time readers also probably will notice that many of these tips have shown up there and here before. That's not because I'm just phoning it in. It's because taxes are a lot like a car.
The basic tax chassis, in this case the Internal Revenue Code, tends to stay the same. But that vehicle does need some regular tune-ups, like annual tax-related inflation adjustments. And occasionally you have to change the change the tires, which for taxes means noting when tax laws change substantially.
Regardless of whether the Daily Tax Tips for 2017 are oldies-but-goodies or a totally new pieces of tax info, all should help in our 2016 return filing and 2017 tax planning.
Multiple tip access options: You'll find a new tip each weekday in the ol' blog's upper right corner. You can click on the tip title to read more.
I'll try to get the post up as early as I can each day, but I learned long ago to make as few time-related promises as possible. Life just seems to mess up my calendars and clocks too much of the time!
If you miss the daily notice, the tips will once again be collected on monthly directory pages (like this one for January). Again, just click on the bold-faced tip title to read more (and the links in some of the tips, too!).
Most of January's tips will be focused on helping early filers who are ready anxious to get their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service and refunds back ASAP. As February, March and April arrive, the tips will offer insight on more complicated tax matters -- those aggravations intricacies are why many of us put off filling our returns -- as well as advice on how to save on your 2017 taxes.
Now that we've got that housekeeping out of the way -- and with the the tax clock ticking (literally; check it out in the ol' blog's right column) -- let's get this New Year's Daily Tax Tip Party started.
- Important 2017 tax dates -- Ready, set, file! And also mark your tax calendar. The key dates and tax deadlines in 2017 are a bit different: Jan. 23, Feb. 15, April 18 and Oct. 16, thanks to some calendar quirks and holiday timing. While the date changes might be a bit confusing, for the most they are beneficial, giving us a bit more time to take care of tax tasks. (Jan. 4, 2017)
- Free File starts Friday, Jan. 13 -- Taxpayers who qualify for the no-cost online tax preparation and e-filing option are in luck on the first Friday the 13th of 2017. They can use Free File to get a head start on their annual filing task. Who's eligible this year? All taxpayers regardless of filing status who make $64,000 or less. (Jan. 5, 2017)
- Tracking tax deductible miles — Do you drive for business purposes or other possibly tax-deductible reasons? Keep good records of your miles. It could pay off as deductions at tax filing time. (Jan. 6, 2017)
- Get organized for tax season — One key to a successful tax filing season is to be prepared. By having all the data you need to fill out your 1040 on hand, you'll be ready to file an accurate return at the earliest possible moment. Some rely on their prior year's return as a guide. Robert from TheCollegeInvestor.com suggests using an income tax binder. (Jan. 9, 2017)
- Income tax rates and brackets — The same 7 tax rates still apply, but the income that falls into each in 2016 and 2017 is slightly different thanks to inflation adjustments. Remember, you use the 2016 tax table to get an idea of the taxes you report and pay (or get refunded!) on the Form 1040 due by April 18. The 2017 table is to help you plan your tax and tax-saving moves this year. (Jan. 10, 2017)
- Picking the perfect tax pro — You've decided this year to get professional help in completing and filing your tax return. Here's a look at your tax preparer choices and how to pick the one that is perfect for your tax needs. (Jan. 11, 2017)
- Where to find your perfect tax pro — You've decided what type of tax preparer you want to hire. Now you've got to find one in your neighborhood. Here's how. (Jan. 12, 2017)
- 13 Friday the 13th tax tips — No need to be scared of black cats or taxes on Friday the 13th or any day as long as you know the real scoop about these 13 tax myths. (Jan. 13, 2017)
- Tax break limits on volunteering — Charity giving takes many forms, but not all are tax-deductible. Take, for example, your volunteer work on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday's Day of Service. Your good deeds are appreciated, but you cannot deduct the value of your time. (Jan. 16, 2017)
- Tax exemptions are excellent — A big family could lead to a smaller tax bill thanks to personal exemptions. This dollar amount for yourself, your spouse and dependents helps lower your taxable income amount, meaning your tax bill should be less. (Jan. 17, 2017)
- Is your child your tax dependent? — It's usually pretty clear when a child is a dependent for tax purposes. But there actually are five tests that must be passed to claim your kiddo on your tax return. (Jan. 18, 2017)
- Standard and itemized deduction inflation figures — Deductions help reduce your income, which leads to a lower tax bill. Standard deduction amounts, which most folks claim, are adjusted annually for inflation. But there are inflation-tweaked amounts that also could affect the size of allowable itemized deductions. Here are the amounts for filing your 2016 return and planning your 2017 tax strategy. (Jan. 19, 2017)
- 5 tax tips for Free File users — Free File, the partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and tax software manufacturers, could be a good, and money-saving, move for millions of taxpayers. But before you decide, check out these tips on how to evaluate and use the free return preparation and e-filing option. (Jan. 20, 2017)
- Tax filing checklist — The 2017 filing season is officially underway. But before you tackle your 1040, make sure you have all the necessary documents on hand. Also ask yourself some key filing questions to ensure you don't overlook any tax breaks. This checklist can help. (Jan. 23, 2017)
- 10 reasons to file a tax return — Tax filing can be a hassle that most of us have to deal with each year. But in some cases, it pays to file a 1040 even if you aren't legally required to do so. (Jan. 24, 2017)
- 6 charitable deduction FAQs — People give to their favorite charities because they want to help. That said, your philanthropy also might help you save a few tax dollars. Here are answers to six commonly asked questions about donating and deducting your gift on your tax return. (Jan. 25, 2017)
- 6 Obamacare tax-filing tips — The Republican-controlled Congress and new GOP President Donald Trump are moving ahead on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. But since it was in place for 2016, here's how to make sure you comply with the tax requirements of the for-now law. (Jan. 26, 2017)
- Don't overlook the EITC — The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides a welcome, and sometimes quite generous, tax break for millions of Americans. Many, however, don't ever file for it. Here's a look at how to qualify for this tax credit that could give you a nice refund. (Jan. 27, 2017)
- Decoding your W-2 — You finally got your W-2 and are ready to file your taxes. Here's what you need from all the boxes on that wage statement to fill out your 1040. (Jan. 30, 2017)
- The many types of Form 1099 — If you're an independent contractor, you know all about 1099-MISC. But there are lots of other versions of this IRS tax statement that you could need to complete your taxes. (Jan. 31, 2017)
But wait, there's more! As I mentioned, as soon as January wraps, you can check out February's (and March's and April's) Daily Tax Tips. When those months and tips arrive, the links below will become live.
March 2016 Daily Tax Tips
April 2016 Daily Tax Tips
Can't get enough tax tips? Check out Don't Mess With Taxes' continually expanding collection of year-round tax tips and money moves.