COLUMBUS, Ga — Filing taxes is a source of dread and frustration for many of us – but News 3 is On Your Side offering tips to help make this year’s task as painless as possible.
One Columbus area tax professional offers insight into the best ways to approach your tax filing and updates us on some new rules that are in effect this tax season.
A couple of things to keep in mind from the start: Remember, everyone needs to produce a 1095 form—either from an employer or from the government—to prove he/she was covered by health insurance during the 2016 year.
Employers and the government have until February to provide taxpayers with these forms. Also, federal returns for people filing with dependents will not be issued this year until after February 15 due to the PATH Act.
For those who have had just one job in 2016, it’s simple. You just need your W-2 form to file your taxes. But if you’ve had more than one job, you’ll need a W-2 from all employers.
“If you’ve had to have several jobs, you need to make sure your employer has your correct address to mail you your W-2’s,” says Lagenia Arnold, of Taxes Done Right, in Columbus.
If you’re a self-employed business owner, you’ll need a little more.
“You need to gather your gross receipts your expenses, and your supplier, and then you put all that together and bring it to us, and we’ll come up with an accurate and precise accounting,” Arnold says.
Many people do file their own taxes, but if you’re unsure about it, it’s best to seek out professional filers. Not only do they have the knowledge to get the job done, they offer you peace of mind should the IRS flag you for an audit.
“So you have a cushion, when you come to us, and you also have our knowledge in preparing your taxes,” says Arnold, pointing out that most professional filing companies offer clients support during audits.
As far as audits go, they’re not as common as many people think.
“Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Because it always can be straightened out. Because they’re going to give you instructions, they’re going to tell you what they’re looking for, and you always have a chance to go back with the information that they’re seeking and send it back to them,” says Arnold.
Arnold adds the best thing we can all do to help ourselves is save receipts. A good rule of thumb is to keep them for about three years.
Remember, you may want to file extra early, but your employer has until January 31 to get out your W-2 forms.
Finally, for Georgia filers, the state will not accept returns until January 31. Review of state returns will not start until February 1. Georgia reserves a 90 day window to issue your state refund.