You know the old saying about March, "In like a lion, out like a lion."
Wait. You say that's not right?
Well it is when it comes to taxes. March is hunker down time, like a lion waiting to pounce, as million of us taxpayers finally start to focus on our annual tax task.
What if you've already filed your 1040?
Good for you. You can afford to be more of a tax lamb, calmly making your tax plans to ensure that what you'll owe Uncle Sam on your 2017 return is as small as possible.
For you this month we'll have some tax planning items sprinkled amid our regular filing tips.
Just as with January's and February's tips, this page will collect all the tax advice that's highlighted in the upper right corner of the ol' blog each March weekday.
So whatever your March animal avatar is, let's get to it!
- What to do if you're missing your W-2 — Yikes! You're still waiting for your W-2 so you can file your taxes? Here's what to do about that missing wage statement. (March 1, 2017)
- Where's your tax refund? — That's a question millions of filers are asking. Some are confused because of refund myths that are still making the rounds this tax season. But the good news is that if you're looking for your federal tax cash, there's an app and other online tools for finding the answer. (March 2, 2017)
- Watch out for these Dirty Dozen tax scams — Tax filing season is tax scam season. These 12 criminal schemes have been around for years because, sadly, they work. Don't fall for these oldies and baddies. And also be on the lookout for a new one now that the IRS is again using private bill collectors to get money from some delinquent taxpayers. (March 3, 2017)
- Life changes that could affect your withholding — The information you provide on your W-4 form determines how much income tax is withheld from your paychecks. When your life changes, it's probably time to fill out a new W-4. Here are some common situations that prompt adjusting your withholding. (March 6, 2017)
- Deductible medical costs — Going to the doctor is never fun, but the tax consolation is that you might be able to deduct some of your medical expenses if you itemize. This includes copays and payments you make to meet your insurance's deductible. But there are some other less common medical costs that could count, too. (March 7, 2017)
- 10 things that aren't taxed — What does the Internal Revenue Service tax? Just about everything. Earned and investment income. Gambling and prize winnings. Barter payments. Even ill-gotten gains (right, Scarface?). But despite the wide net that Uncle Sam's tax collector casts, there is some money that he doesn't get to reel in. Here are 10 examples. (March 8, 2017)
- $1 billion in unclaimed 2013 refunds — Lots of folks are anxiously awaiting their 2016 tax refunds, but around a million also are due money from Uncle Sam in connection with tax returns they didn't file three years ago. But to get your part of the $1 billion the IRS wants to refund, you must file your 2013 return by this April's tax deadline. (March 9, 2017)
- 5 ways to spend your FSA — Have a medical flexible spending account (FSA)? Does your employer give you until the March 15 grace period deadline to use the account money? Here are some ideas on how to spend your FSA money in the next few days so you don't lose it. (March 10, 2017)
- Tax break for short-term home rental — Is your city hosting a special happening, like South by Southwest (SXSW) here in Austin or some of the college basketball games that are part of the NCAA March Madness tournament? You could make some tax-free money by turning your home into a short-term rental during the big event. (March 13, 2017)
- Tax tips from athletes in tax trouble — The sports' focus for the next month is on college basketball. But the young men playing in the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament — and all of us, in fact — can learn some important tax lessons from pro athletes who found themselves in trouble with tax collectors. (March 14, 2017)
- How does the AMT work? — The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a parallel federal tax system that was created almost 50 years ago to make sure rich taxpayers couldn't zero out their Internal Revenue Service bills. The AMT, revised in 2012 so that exemptions are now adjusted for inflation, has its own tax rates and limited deductions. Donald J. Trump had to pay more than $30 grand in AMT in 2005, but you don't necessarily have to be a millionaire to fall into its clutches. (March 15, 2017)
- 10 IRS notice tips — You definitely didn't want to see that envelope with an Internal Revenue Service return address in your snail mail box. But don't panic. It's probably one of the tax agency's basic notices seeking just a bit more information about your tax return. And in many cases, the matter can be quickly resolved. (March 16, 2017)
- Tax help for helping an elderly parent — Some senior citizens depend on help from groups like Meals on Wheels. Others get substantial support from their families. If you or an aging relative is in the family help category, make sure the caregiver checks out the possible tax breaks for taking care of mom or dad in their Golden Years. (March 17, 2017)
- Tax breaks for making your home energy efficient — A new, warmer season has arrived. That means it's time to spring into action when it comes to residential energy-saving tax breaks. There's the one for energy upgrades to your home that you might be able to claim on your 2016 return. For 2017 through 2021, certain solar energy systems get an even bigger tax credit. (March 20, 2017)
- Timing and your capital gains tax rate — When to sell? That's the key question investors always must ask in determining how to cash out at the most profitable time. But your asset selling time frame answer also affects how much tax you'll owe Uncle Sam. Generally, more patient investors will face a lower tax bill. (March 21, 2017)
- FSAs, HSAs and taxes — Medical expenses can take a big bite out of your wallet. However, a couple of special tax-advantaged accounts — flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA) — are good remedies for both your doctor and tax bills. (March 22, 2017)
- Picking the proper Form 1040 — Form 1040 is the granddaddy of Internal Revenue Service documents. It's the one that millions of us complete to report our income and figure any associated federal taxes or refunds due. There are, however, three versions of 1040. Picking the one that best fits your tax situation will make filing easier and could save you money. (March 23, 2017)
- 6 tips for new taxpayers — Filing a 1040 for the first time? Don't panic. Here are six suggestions to help you make it through your initial contact (and future ones, too!) with the Internal Revenue Service. (March 24, 2017)
- Donating your RMD to charity — Do you have to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from a traditional IRA or other tax-deferred retirement account? The tax code also offers a way to meet that mandatory withdrawal without owing tax. You can donate your RMD directly to a qualified charity. (March 27, 2017)
- Capital gains tax on collectibles not that low — You're thinking of selling that coin your numismatic grandpa gave you years ago. An internet search shows it's worth a decent amount. Even better, your profit will be taxed a lower capital gains rate. But it's not as low as you might think. Collectibles held for more than a year are taxed at a long-term capital gains rate of 28 percent instead of the commonly cited 15 percent or 20 percent rates. (March 28, 2017)
- Valuing deductible donated goods — You cleaned out your closet and are headed to your favorite charity to donate the items. So how much can you deduct? The Internal Revenue Service says the fair market value of any clothes or household goods that are in good or better condition. These valuation guides can help you arrive at the IRS-acceptable dollar amount. (March 29, 2017)
- Home repair or home improvement? — Not only are there differences between home repairs and home improvements, the designation makes a difference in your taxes. (March 30, 2017)
- Claiming the regular or simplified home office deduction — Maintaining an IRS-approved home office can help reduce your sole proprietor tax bill. But do so typically entails a lot of record keeping. Some small business owners, however, might find that the simplified home office deduction works just find for them. (March 31, 2017)
Want more tax tip goodness? You got it!
Below are links to all the 2017 monthly daily tax tips pages. So far, we've got January, February and here on this page March. When April arrives, that text below will be linked, too.
Can't get enough tax tips? Check out Don't Mess With Taxes' continually expanding collection of year-round tax tips and money moves.