Tax season comes just as quickly as the new year. With the change in season to spring comes tax time. It’s good to be prepared for what to do for tax time.
Change of Address
Did you know that you can file a change of address form with the IRS? If you file your return in April and then move that next month, you might miss your rebate check. File a change of address form here, so the IRS knows where to send your rebate check.
Find an accountant
If you are reading this, you are probably already behind on taxes. Okay, not really. But the time to get ahead for taxes is the year prior. Finding an account early can help. Oftentimes, looking for an accountant in January means many might not have availability to help before April. Preparing a tax return takes time, and if they don’t have the time to prepare your taxes before tax day, then you might be doing them on your own or finding a big group like H.R. Block to complete them for you.
If you are utilizing an accountant, ask all the questions. You can’t just say you didn’t know if your accountant filled something out incorrectly; it’s your signature on the tax return (electronic or otherwise). If you have a question about what should be included, or excluded, ask.
Just like finding an accountant early, filing early is key. Whether you are submitting taxes on your own or through an accountant, try to get things done as early as possible. As W2 and 1099 forms come in from work and you receive bank statements on interests or mortgages, scan and send all documents to your accountant, if you have one, and save those documents to a folder on your computer and a real folder.
File for Free
If your taxes are straightforward and you want to file yourself, you can submit them for free through the guidance on the IRS website. Those whose annual gross income (AGI) of $73,000 qualify for a free federal tax return. Those who have an AGI over $73,000 can use free file-fillable forms.
Miltax is a free tax service from Military One Source that is available from mid-January through mid-October. Set up a free Military One Source account to utilize the software.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, are tax specialists who are trained specifically in the unique tax situations of military families. There are locations both within the United States and in overseas locations where military members serve. Check for a location near you here.
Paper filing takes much longer. If you want your return quicker or to make sure that you put everything in, you need to file electronically.
Keep a hard copy
The IRS can audit taxes returns filed within the last three years, and they may add additional years if there is a significant error. While you may have saved everything to your computer three years ago, it died, and now you don’t have access to the documents on it. Keep a hard copy of tax returns and any accompanying documentation in a binder for that year or several years. Keep it in a safe place, and altogether, so you know where it is. If an audit happens, you will not be caught unawares. Save seven years of returns.
File An Extension if Serving in a Combat Zone
If the military service member is serving in a combat zone or contingency operation, you may be able to file an extension. The extension is for 180 days after leaving the combat zone or after the operation is no longer considered a contingency operation.
For those military service members and families living outside the United States, there is an automatic 2-month extension on the tax deadline. This is due to the fact that snail mail of statements may take longer to get to the service member or family member. Make sure to have everything ready as soon as you are able to file.
Reminder: If you are filing taxes with someone who is a pop-up, they may not be available if you have a tax audit. The H&R Block pop-up units on base typically have a manager or a contact with someone who will be present after-tax season to contact. Just make sure to get their card and information should you need it.