Friday, February 20, 2015

Trick Question: Blizzards or Taxes Which is Worse?

February has been a month filled with snow and bone chilling temps. Even though it may seem like New England is being hit the hardest, we are not alone in what has become a record breaking winter. Some towns are even starting to blame Disney's Elsa for freezing out the neighborhood. Whether you are experiencing these epic weather systems firsthand or in front of the television one thing is for sure spring will come.

In the meantime, while you are stuck inside waiting for the ice dams to melt remember that tax season is in full swing which means this might be the prime opportunity to sit down and start filing away. However, if this is your first time or tenth time filing be sure to read the fine print. Taxes are confusing and often times overwhelming, much like these darn blizzards. Some services charge a fee to file or a fee to receive your refund via direct deposit. You worked hard for your money, so don't lose it to pesky charges. Here's what you need to know...

Tax forms and instructions may be found online at www.IRS.gov. Through the IRS you may file Federal and State returns for free if you earn under $60,000. If you need assistance preparing your returns check out the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, VITA.  Our neighbors at Bentley provide this service to Waltham residents through April.

Whether you file online or by mail be sure you sign your tax return and do your best to avoid these seven common tax mistakes, courtesy of CNN Money.  Also, if you are unsure of what deductions you can claim to help increase the amount of your refund then read this article from Kiplinger.com. Popular student or recent grad deductions include student loan interest paid, job hunting costs, moving expenses for a first job, etc. The moral of this story is to save your receipts.

With tax season comes identity theft. Sad as it may be there are lowly individuals that file fake returns with a stolen identity and receive a fraudulent refund check. This can be terribly upsetting when the victim was unaware and discovered the crime only when their return was rejected from the IRS. Always remember Identity Theft is a crime and a police report should be filed. In addition, victims should report the incident to all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. For other tips to help you avoid being a victim check out the article from AllClearID.

Whether you leave your house looking like the Boston Yeti to stay warm or if you're inside crunching numbers for your return remember, "the snow never bothered us anyway."