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Wilmington CPA Accounting Firm comments on IRS.gov Top 10 Tax Tips

Wilmington NC CPA Firm and Tax Accountant

Gary Bode, CPA: We encourage self preparation of easier returns. But if you want a friendly mix of tax expertise and customer service, please give us a call at (910) 399-2705.

IRS.gov has published its top ten tax preparation tips for 2011.  As a Wilmington NC CPA accounting firm, we’ll present our comments after the re-print of the IRS.gov announcement copied below. 

While we encourage folks to self prepare their tax returns, it isn’t always feasible, even using good tax preparation software like TurboTax.  Especially with business returns.  If your comfort level drops during tax preparation, please consider calling us for a free initial consult at (910) 399-2705.

Top 10 Tax Time Tips as Published in IRS.gov 

It’s that time of the year again, the income tax filing season has begun and important tax documents should be arriving in the mail. Even though your return is not due until April, getting an early start will make filing easier. Here are the Internal Revenue Service’s top 10 tips that will help your tax filing process run smoother than ever this year.

  1. Start gathering your records Round up any documents or forms you’ll need when filing your taxes: receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you’re claiming on your return.
  2. Be on the lookout W-2s and 1099s will be coming soon; you’ll need these to file your tax return.
  3. Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It’s available exclusively at http://www.irs.gov. Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free. If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit www.irs.gov/freefile to review your options.
  4. Try IRS e-file: After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers – 99 million people – used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. This is your chance to give it a try. IRS e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely. If you owe taxes, you have payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline. Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days.
  5. Consider other filing options There are many different options for filing your tax return.You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer.You may be eligible for free face-to-face help at an IRS office or volunteer site.Give yourself time to weigh all the different options and find the one that best suits your needs.
  6. Consider Direct Deposit If you elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you’ll receive it faster than waiting for a paper check. 
  7. Visit the IRS website again and again The official IRS website is a great place to find everything you’ll need to file your tax return: forms, publications, tips, answers to frequently asked questions and updates on tax law changes.
  8. Remember this number: 17 Check out IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax on the IRS website. It’s a comprehensive collection of information for taxpayers highlighting everything you’ll need to know when filing your return.
  9. Review! Review! Review!Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush.Mistakes will slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double-check all the Social Security Numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors made by taxpayers.
  10. Don’t panic! If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Try http://www.irs.gov or call toll-free at 800-829-1040.

Our comments:

 #1.  Documentation during a tax audit is crucial.  As a CPA firm, we see folks giving us accurate info they can’t always back up during a tax audit.  It’s worth the extra effort to organize and keep bulletproof IRS documentation.  Especially with small business accounting if you run a company.

#2.  It’s easy to miss one of these mailed documents.  Compare what you received for 2010 against what you filed in 2009.  CPAs accomplish this with Tax Organizers, but you can do the same thing just by being careful.

#3.  We don’t recommend using the retail tax chains for good reasons.  But we encourage self preparation of easier returns.  The IRS program is good, try it.  Next we recommend TurboTax.  Remember, you can always fall back on us at (910) 399-2705.

#4.  The IRS almost mandates E-File now.  But it allows them to tax audit your return more thoroughly and quickly. 

#5.  The VITA programs are great for easier returns and are hundreds of dollars cheaper than the retail tax preparation chains.  Your tax refunds are almost as quick too.

#6.  Let’s face it; they can get your account info eventually anyway.  We’ve heard of no problems.  This makes your tax refund almost as fast as any “Instant Refund” the tax preparation chains offer.

 #7.  IRS.gov is full of tax information.  And more than jut tax forms. You can even look at IRS agent tax audit guides!

#8.  IRS Publications aren’t always so easy to understand –go figure! 

 #9.  It’s always better to get it right the first time.

 #10. Remember you can’t rely on IRS verbal advice during a tax audit.  Get it in writing.

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