IRS Forecasts a “Miserable” 2015 Tax Season
The Hudson Valley Tax Pros Bring You The 2015 Tax Season Survival Guide
Tax season is not fun, but the 2015 tax season is ushering in a whole new level of “not fun.” I want to share with you exactly how dismal it looks. But I also want to share practical steps that you can begin taking today to ensure a much better tax filing experience for you and yours. Whether you’re preparing to file your Hudson Valley taxes, or you’re someplace else in the U.S., these tips and tricks will get you ahead of the game.
So here’s the bad news. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen expects the 2015 tax filing season to be a “miserable” time for many Americans. Koskinen fears that up to one half of taxpayers attempting to reach the IRS by phone will have no such luck. He says “phone service could plummet to 53%,” reports Forbes.
Koskinen and other IRS execs will take the brunt of the backlash, but this is largely a funding problem. The IRS lost nearly $350 million in funding for 2015. The budget problem is only made worse by the increased burden of new legislation. Going into the new year, the IRS is tasked to implement both the Affordable Care Act (you might know this by “Obamacare”) as well as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Both are new responsibilities that the IRS will find difficult to manage.
In short, the IRS has their hands full, and not just full of taxpayer money this time around. The outlook seems bleak. There is the potential that tax refunds will be delayed and the filing season itself might be pushed back.
But I’m not here to bring the doom and gloom and leave you feeling helpless. Rather, I want to show you a few tips and tricks that you can take to the bank. If you begin your tax season prep in advance, you might get through the season completely unscathed. At the very least, you’ll save yourself from the future stress and anxiety that often comes with disorganized, last-minute tax filing.
#1 – Know the 2015 Tax Season Dates and Deadlines
Miss an important date and you’re up the creek without a calculator. There are a few dates you’ll want to mark on your calendar. Read here if you’re filing for a small business or you are self-employed. If you’re filing as an individual, the 2015 general tax calendar is your best bet.
#2 – Keep Organized
Use the Tax Organizer that your tax preparer sent to you. The organizer will help you to review tax issues of the past, present and future. For example, it will guide you through the new Affordable Care Act rules and regulations that go into effect this year. And of course, it will help you to keep all of your documents organized. You should receive an organizer each year. If your tax preparer fails to send this, consider finding a new preparer.
#3 – Wrap-Up your Charitable Contributions
You have until the last day of the year to make tax-deductible charitable contributions. So clean out your closets, rummage through your storage space and maybe even consider giving away that old vehicle you never drive. Keep all of your receipts in your organizer. I would recommend reading up a little on writing-off charitable contributions in your taxes to get the most out of your giving.
#4 – Find a Competent and Professional Tax Preparer
The IRS website (IRS.gov) lists the credentials of every agent/preparer authorized to represent the public and specialize in tax preparation and other tax matters. It is important to recognize that a CPA may not be learned in tax matters or even authorized to represent you or your business. A fully qualified and authorized tax preparer is the only way to go. Your preparer will navigate the tax-filing pitfalls for you, and will likely save you a good amount of money in doing so.
#5 – Relax and “Roll with the Punches”
If you choose to file your own taxes this year, despite how much you prepare, you might come up short on a thing or two – or three or four. But don’t worry too much. Rest easy knowing that you’re not hiding money in offshore accounts, involved in some intricate tax evasion scheme, or otherwise trying to dupe the IRS (because you’re not, right?).
Be confident that in the event of an audit, you have all of the proper documents and receipts you’ll need to keep that precious freedom of yours. Also, most of the forms you will need to file are mailed by January 31st. It’s best to wait until the second week of February to ensure you’ve received everything you need before really getting started. Then, take steady forward strides until you’ve crossed your last “t” and dotted your last “i.”
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you stay afloat this tax season. One of the best feelings is receiving a handsome tax return – after all, we work hard throughout the year and want something to show for all the money we pay Uncle Sam. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be in much better shape than most Americans.
Let me know in the comments below what your biggest tax season challenges are every year. And feel free to get a hold of me with specific questions – I specialize in tax preparation and can help you with everything from organization to tax filing.