One of the big problems with all the hype about April 15 as Tax Day is that it gives taxpayers the idea that they don’t have to think about their income taxes once the returns have been filed. So before the sun sets on Tax Day 2013 please let me make a few suggestions that might make you tax life easier in the future.
Before you safely put away your tax return, back it up. Make a digital or paper copy and file it in a different place. I don’t know how many times the last few months I’ve heard from clients who weren’t able to find a past year return. This is especially necessary if you are doing it yourself. It’s hard to fight the IRS if you don’t know what you did in the first place. While you’re backing up the return, take time to secure the supporting documents you used for the return. Back them all up if possible. There are small scanners that are made to copy receipts. Remember that some receipts fade over time and a copy might save you if audited later. Also, I can give a client a copy of their return and will have copies of some of their documents but I don’t keep copies of all the receipts I go through. They’re your receipts and returns; you need to keep them secure.
Did you owe on your tax return or get a large refund? It might be a good idea to look at your withholding and make changes to it. By doing it now, you have plenty of time to let the changes take effect and to check to see if the changes will be enough to cover your tax debt or reduce your big refund.
This is also the time to think about tax planning. Life changes can affect your taxes and need planning. Will you retire in 2013 or start to draw Social Security? Most pensions don’t withhold income taxes unless you tell them with a W-4P. A tax pro can help you fill one out. And remember Social Security can be taxable and you may need to set up withholding through SS or make estimates to cover the extra tax.
Are you getting married or divorced? Are you having a baby or becoming empty nesters? A little time with your tax pro can help you plan for your 2013 taxes. No one likes a bad surprise when they do their taxes. But too often, taxpayers don’t plan for changes until they’ve seen what happens on their return and have to write a big check they weren’t planning to write.
It’s April 15th and for most taxpayers, their taxes are done and they won’t think about them again until next January. But a little time now to secure your return and the supporting documents or to talk to your tax pro about changes you expect in 2013 can protect you from problems and surprises in the future.