How to Protect Yourself When Paying Taxes - Vital Steps You Need to Take Now
Tax season can be an unpleasant time of year for a lot of taxpayers, especially if you owe money to the IRS or State. The only thing you can do is make the most of it, prepare ahead of time, and pay the lowest amount allowed by law.
Whether you are due a refund or writing a big fat check to the IRS, there are some steps you should take after your return has been filed. Here are three critical steps to take once the tax filing deadline has come and gone.
Step #1 -- Print Off Hard Copies of All Your Forms and Receipts
Even if you save all of your documents on the computer and in the cloud, it is a good idea to print off hard copies and store them in a safe place. From the 1099 forms detailing your interest and dividend payments to the receipts that back up your charitable donations and business expenses, you never know when you will need this information.
You will appreciate having those hard copies on hand if your computer crashes or your cloud storage service fails. It takes only a couple minutes of printing, and those couple minutes could save you weeks of hassle down the road.
Step #2 -- Check Your Refund Status Or Balance Due Online
Even if you file electronically, you cannot expect instant service on your tax refund. It is the IRS after all. Even so, you should see quick action on your return and a notice that it has been accepted. Keeping an eye on your tax refund is one of the best ways to protect yourself and make sure the money you are owed does not end up in the hands of identity thieves.
This is also true if you owe money to the IRS. There have been tax identity theft cases where someone else files a tax return with your social security number, leaving you to deal with the liability or adding on to the amounts you owe.
If you use a tax filing software package, you should receive a notice by email when your return is submitted to the IRS, and another when it has been accepted. Watch your email box carefully and follow up if you do not receive those notifications within a day or two.
Once a week has passed, be sure to check the Where's My Refund page at the IRS.gov website to see where your refund stands. This handy tool provides a real-time picture of your refund status, from the time it is received by the IRS to the minute the money hits your bank account.
If you owe money, log in to your IRS account here https://www.irs.gov/payments/view-your-tax-account and check the balance to make sure it lines up with what you know you owe. If there are discrepancies, contact your tax resolution firm ASAP.
Step #3 -- Prepare for Next Year
You just filed your taxes, and the last thing you want to do is think about filing for next year. Despite this trepidation, now is the perfect time to start getting your ducks in a row for the filing season to come.
Start by looking at your current year's return and think about ways you could have lowered your tax debt. Perhaps you could have given more to your favorite charity. Maybe you could have increased your retirement savings rate. Knowing what you did wrong this year will make it easy to adjust your strategy and save more money going forward.
Nothing can make filing taxes a truly pleasant experience, but dealing with the IRS is something every American needs to do. Now that your tax return has been duly filed and your 1040 form is on its way to the IRS, taking the right steps can save you money down the line, protect you from identity theft and make future tax dealings a little less stressful.
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