Seasonal Tax Planning Tips
When your children go back to school and the leaves start falling from the trees, you need to start thinking about taxes. The year is coming to an end, and if you have a steady job then you should have a pretty good idea about what your total income is going to be for the year. Once you calculate your yearly income, you will know what tax bracket you fall in, and can make any necessary adjustments to your withholdings. If you have not paid enough, you can have your employer take out additional taxes from your paycheck. It will mean less money each month, but it sure beats having to pay the IRS a large payment in April. On the other hand, if you have overpaid your taxes then you can lower your withholdings and get a little extra holiday season cash.
The fall months are also your last chance to make any longer-term tax moves that cannot be made last minute come December. For example, if you plan to make a large charitable donation, then you will want to make it now so that you can make sure you get proper receipts and documentation. Finally, if you are trying to buy a house and take advantage of the $8,000 Federal tax credit then you are going to want to make sure you close escrow during the fall months. The credit expires on December 1st, and is unlikely to get extended into next year.
The winter months are always a busy time. Between holidays like Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year, taxes are probably the last thing on your mind. However, remember that December 31st is the end of the tax year, so if you plan to make any last minute purchases to lower your tax liability then time is running out. If you have any last minute donations to make, then you will want to drop them off as soon as possible. Additionally, you can do a few other things like paying your January mortgage payment early, or deferring extra income, to help keep your tax liability low.
Once the New Year begins, you are going to start getting your tax forms in the mail. Although you can technically file your return any time past the middle of January, most people typically wait until late March or April. If you do not want to file your return early, then you will at least want to start gathering your financial documents so that you are prepared for tax season.
If you prepared early, then come spring you can quickly and painlessly file your tax return. April 15th is the deadline to get your return in, and the sooner you file the better. If you intend to have your return prepared by a tax professional, then try going before April to avoid the last minute rush. It’s also a good idea to go early so that your tax preparer is not rushed and can dedicate enough time to preparing the best return possible for you.
Fortunately the tax deadline lands right in the middle of the Spring season, so once you have filed your return you can sit back and enjoy the rest of your Spring. If you got a refund from the IRS then you might have a little extra money to spend. However, just remember that it is never too early to start planning for next tax season. Therefore you might want to use that refund to purchase a qualifying energy efficient appliance or even put a down payment on a tax friendly hybrid vehicle.
The summer season brings hot weather and relaxation. If you filed your return on time then you can enjoy the summer without worrying about your taxes. However, if you missed the IRS deadline then you will want to get your return filed as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you will have to pay in IRS penalties and fees.
In between BBQs and pool parties, you can also take advantage of the summer to get an early start on next tax season. Make sure you are keeping all of your financial documents in a safe place. If you do not have one, then go out and get yourself a file cabinet or a security box. Make sure that you are labeling all of your receipts, and that you are keeping all of your documents organized as you accumulate them. It is much easier to keep track of your finances when all of your records are in order, and will help you stay focused on tax planning throughout the year.