Yes, that's right, it's that time of year nobody loves - tax time! No, this is not too early to think about it, especially if you have money coming to you.
All right, so it's not fun to think about doing your taxes. But there is a distinct advantage to getting an early start - it's a reminder to be more organized in this regard in the year to come. Make this as pleasant as possible next year.
Now, if you and your spouse each have jobs rather than businesses, your employer has handled the bulk of the paperwork as far as paying taxes goes. You just have to know what your deductions are. If you're only taking the standard deduction, you may be paying too much, sometimes quite significantly. If you aren't sure what all you can take a deduction on, consult your accountant, or, if you do your own taxes, go to http://turbotax.intuit.com/ and see what they suggest. You may get a pleasant surprise. They have a great list right on the first page of their site.
Of course, if you have a home business, you have more paperwork and more deductions to consider. This is why many home businesses prefer to use an accountant. It saves a lot of worry and can be worth the expense. You can deduct in many cases for your home office, business supplies and more. Consult with a tax professional, and be sure you have receipts for everything in case you are unlucky enough to be audited. I am not a tax professional, so I really cannot give you better advice than that.
Now, if you've done your taxes and find out you're getting a big refund, it's time to celebrate, right? Not really. If you're getting a big refund, that means you gave the government an interest-free loan. You need the money more than they do, right? If you are overpaying to avoid underpaying (and who likes paying more at tax time?), put the excess you were thinking about paying into some kind of savings account. Even a plain savings account in a bank pays more than nothing, and you're still getting the advantage of money saved up. This is far harder to do, of course, since the money is nicely within reach, but it's a good practice in general to have some money you rarely touch anyhow.
Getting your taxes under control now can save you a great deal of trouble next year and in future years. Build good filing habits so that if you are ever audited you can easily justify your deductions. And finally, consult with a tax professional to get the most out of your tax return.
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