Say hello to the heart of tax-filing season
The shortest month of the year also is the heart of filing season, as millions of taxpayers submit their taxes as early as possible. These are the filers lucky enough to have all their necessary forms in hand.
Other of us are more deliberate. These filers take extra time to make sure they have all the filing information and documents and then take their time working on their 1040s. They want to ensure they get it all right so, unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, they don't have to keep doing their taxes over and over and over to correct mistakes.
Then there are the procrastinators. That's OK. You — and often times, me — still have plenty of time to get our taxes done and on their way to the Internal Revenue Service by mid-April.
But it doesn't hurt, regardless of whether you've already filed and are waiting on your refund or just getting started or putting things off for a bit longer, you should find some tips here that help you make it through this tax year's filing.
As was the case in January, this month's pieces of tax advice will be highlighted in the upper right corner of the ol' blog. After that showcasing, they'll then be saved for your tax tip pleasure here.
Since February's short time frame is already ticking away, let's get to it!
- How to stop tax procrastinating — While there are many legitimate reasons to take your time completing your Form 1040, waiting until the deadline is bearing down generally is not a good idea. Here's why so many of us tend to put off doing our taxes and how we can break this habit. (Feb. 2, 2019)
- Gambling winnings are taxable — An estimated $6 billion was bet on Super Bowl LIII, the first NFL championship game played since sports betting was legalized by a 2018 Supreme Court decision. If you were one of the millions who wagered on the game or the goofy prop bets and you won, be sure to report your winnings when you file your return next year. (Feb. 3, 2019)
- 6 reasons to file your taxes early — It's generally a good idea to file your tax return early, whether you're getting a refund or owe the IRS. These six reasons explain why. (Feb. 6, 2019)
- 6 reasons to wait to file your taxes — Ready to file? You might want to take a step back. While we all want to be done with our annual tax return filing task, sometimes — like the six instances discussed here — it's better to wait a bit before submitting your Form 1040. (Feb. 8, 2019)
- Be sure to claim the EITC if you qualify — The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) offers savings, and possible refunds, to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. However, every year millions who are eligible to claim the EITC don't. Check out how this tax credit's benefits and if you qualify, claim it! (Feb. 10, 2019)
- Picking the proper filing status — Most folks' filing status stays the same from tax year to tax year. But a change in your personal situation could mean you need to revisit how you file your return. The Internal Revenue Service gives us 5 filing status choices. Pick the proper one. It could make a big difference in your tax bill. (Feb. 11, 2019)
- 5 things to know about retirement plan hardship withdrawals —The longest-ever, federal government shutdown earlier this year made it painfully clear that many of Uncle Sam's employees don't have an emergency savings cushion. In some of these situations, folks raid their retirement accounts when they suddenly need cash. The money can help tide you over, but could have adverse short-term tax costs. (Feb. 12, 2019)
- Valentine's Day: Love, hearts and taxes — Every year, Valentine's Day comes during the heart of tax filing season. While most of us marry for love, finances and the related taxes are a big part of our coupled relationships. Here's a look at five love and taxes considerations. (Feb. 14, 2019)
- EITC and ACTC refunds are good to go, sort of — Since 2017, the Internal Revenue Service has had to hold onto tax refunds when the filers claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC) until mid-February. That deadline is here, but if you're affected by this law, be patient. It will take the IRS some time, especially in this government shutdown-affected filing season, for your tax money to be sent. (Feb. 15, 2019)
- Ways to pay your tax bill — If you're one of many (many, many) unhappily surprised taxpayers who discovers you owe taxes when you file, check out these ways, both old school and electronic, to pay Uncle Sam. (Feb. 19, 2019)
- What to do if you don't have your W-2 — Your Form W-2 is the annual official tax statement detailing how much money you made last year. It's also one of the few tax documents that you have to send in with your 1040. Here's how to file if you don't have a W-2. (Feb. 21, 2019)
- VITA, TCE sites offer free tax help — Looking for in-person tax preparation and filing assistance, but don't make enough to pay a professional? You might qualify for free tax help from Internal Revenue Service-certified volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across the United States. (Feb. 22, 2018)
- Tax transcripts role in e-filing signatures — When you electronically submit your taxes, your e-signature must be verified. In some cases, that's done by entering data from your prior year's Form 1040. If you don't have that old return, you can get the info from a tax transcript of your filing. (Feb. 25, 2019)
- What to do if your tax refund wrong — Tax law change confusion and paycheck withholding miscalculations have led to a lot of grumbling by many filers about the size of their tax refund checks. But there are other reasons why refunds sometimes are not what filers expect. Here's what to do if you think your tax refund is wrong. (Feb. 27, 2019)
- Tracking down your tax refund — The only thing worse than not getting the tax refund you expected is waiting for it to arrive. If you filed a while ago and your refund has yet to arrive, track it down using the Internal Revenue Service's online search tool "Where's My Refund?" (Feb. 28, 2019)
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) Filing Season Tax Tips. When those months and tips arrive, the links below will become live.