CPAs Say You Should Do These 7 Things Before You File Your Taxes



As we approach this year’s tax filing deadline of Apr. 18, even if you haven’t filed your return yet, you probably have a game plan in place for getting it done. That said, here are some last-minute filing tips and things you should do before you file your taxes:

  1. Be thorough in assembling your tax data. One of the best ways to do this is to pull out your prior year return and methodically work through it line by line, confirming you have similar data for the current tax year. Note and investigate any variances. 
  2. Account for every information reporting form sent to you that the IRS also receives. This includes every type of Form 1099 – INT for interest income, DIV for dividend income, MISC for miscellaneous income, G for government payments such as state tax refunds, unemployment, etc. The IRS employs a matching technique with these forms. Excluding or missing the income from your return may result in a tax notice. Also be sure to report information that comes to you on various Forms 1098 – such as Mortgage Interest Statement and Form 1098-T for tuition payments. In any instance where the amount reported to you does not agree with your records, you should investigate with the source. You can report the correct amount on your return, but an explanation will need to be provided.
  3. Pay attention to the details. Confirm that all personal data has been entered correctly, including social security numbers and names. Names should agree with how they appear on Social Security cards. Be sure that all amounts are entered on the proper lines. Confirm all information required on each form is provided.
  4. Double-check your return. Slow down and confirm that all the math is correct. Double check your work. If unsure about how to fill out a schedule or form, check the instructions. All forms and instructions are available on the IRS website. Whether you file electronically, by paper, use a paid preparer or prepare your return yourself, give the return a final review to be sure that it is complete, signed and dated. You might also consider comparing the completed return with your prior return, page by page, to look for differences which may indicate missing information or input errors.
  5. Attach proper documentation. If you file by paper return, make sure that W-2’s and other forms containing federal withholding are attached to the return and agree with the amount of withholding claimed on the return. If you extend your return, be sure to attach the extension to the final filed return. If you have a payment due with the return, there is a separate voucher to be included. If mailing your return in, use certified mail with tracking so you have evidence of mailing should the delivery go missing.
  6. File electronically and/or use direct deposit. E-file is available on the IRS website. Also, most purchased software programs offer an e-filing option. Using both of these options can significantly speed up the processing of your return and receipt of your refund, as well as eliminate the possibility of a lost return. If using direct deposit, double check the entry of your account numbers.
  7. Consider filing for an extension. If you feel you’d want or need more time to prepare your return to ensure its accuracy and thoroughness, you can extend the time to file until Oct. 15. However, this does not extend the time to pay any tax that is due. Any estimated tax due must be paid with the extension, so you’ll have to prepare an estimate under any circumstances. Use Form 4868 to extend the time for filing.  This form will extend your Michigan return as well in the event that you are expecting a refund. However, if you project a balance due on your Michigan return, use Form 4 to separately extend Michigan, available at the following link.

Keeping the above items in mind through the tax return preparation and filing process should help in the long run.


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