Tax season is around the corner, and January is a great time to start thinking about filing taxes.
Below are ten tips to help make the most of the 2016 tax season.
1. Save hundreds of dollars by filing for free. Minnesota has more than 290 free tax preparation sites where taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers who will help you get your maximum refund. You can also file online for free using MyFreeTaxes, if you made under $62,000.
2. If you use a paid tax preparer, choose wisely. When selecting an individual or company to prepare your taxes, check the person or company’s qualifications, ask about their service fees, and make sure they are accessible after April 18 in case you have a question.
3. Bring all your documents to maximize your refund. Ensure you have all your documents including proof of identification and a Social Security card or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), picture I.D., and income statements.
4. Get your refund faster and safer using direct deposit. Bring your routing and account numbers for your checking account, savings account, and/or prepaid card.
5. You could receive up to $6,242 from the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you had earned income in 2015 and made less than $53,267, you could be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
6. Know who you can claim as a dependent. If you are separated, divorced, or never married, know who is entitled to claim the child(ren).
7. Save your receipts from school supplies. If you paid for K-12 school-related expenses like notebooks, rental of musical instruments, transportation fees for school-time field trips, bring the receipts when you file taxes to get up to 75% back of the expenses or reduce the tax you owe.
8. Filing a tax return is required to get student financial aid. If a spouse and/or your children plan to attend a postsecondary institution, information from tax forms is required to complete the FAFSA.
9. Use your refund to get ahead: Consider putting a portion of your refund into your savings account to save for a rainy day or use it to help you pay down debt. You could also use your refund to buy a U.S. Savings Bond or start a $3-for-$1 matched FAIM savings account.
10. There are three additional days to file your taxes this year: Tax day is April 18, 2016 this year. The last day to claim a 2015 Minnesota property tax refund is August 15, 2017.