Skip the Tax Season Pain: Our Top 3 Tax Season Tips
The 2019 tax deadline of April 15 is fast approaching. If you’re looking for some quick wins to get your taxes over and done with and prepared for next year, look no further. We’ve done all the digging so you don’t have to. Here are our top 3 tax season tips to help you quickly and easily get your taxes done and maximize your refund.
Let Tax Software Do the Heavy Lifting
The tax rules this year have changed in a few ways. Rather than trying to learn everything yourself, we highly recommend you use tax software to guide you through the process. There are major companies who automate all of the possible scenarios for you, so all you need to do is import your earnings and follow their prompts.
Turbo Tax, TaxACT, and H&R Block are three of the most popular tax software options out there. They help millions of people easily file their taxes every year. Each has state and federal filing, as well as a few free options. If you’re new to tax software, we recommend using TaxACT.
Consider “Bunching” Your Deductions To Save More
Starting in 2018, the standard deduction increased from $6,500 to $12,000 for individuals, and from $13,000 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. This increase took effect with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
This change meant that many people were no longer able to claim extra deductions and could only take the standard deduction instead. But it turns out you can “bunch” deductions, surpassing the threshold and thus save more.
You can “bunch” deductions by basically moving your deductions forward. For example, you could add your deductions from 2018 and 2019 together and submit them for your 2020 taxes, while opting to take the standard deduction for your 2019 filing. Included in common deductions are charitable donations or prepaying mortgage payments this year. Other things you can do are prepay property tax bills that are due early next year, or add in a doctor’s or hospital bill.
To Maximize Refund, Track Your Mileage All The Time
One of the biggest tax mistakes you can make is not tracking your mileage. Even if you’re not an independent contractor, if you take one thing with you for next tax season, it’s this: Start tracking your mileage now.
For 2019, the standard mileage rates are the following:
- 58 cents per mile for business
- 20 cents per mile for medical
- 14 cents per mile for charity
The good news is that there are very good mileage tracking apps out there that make tracking mileage effortless. MileIQ and Simple are two of the most popular mileage tracking apps out there. Key differences are that MileIQ charges an annual fee and Simple is free. Simple is also customizable as well and has quick customer support. For those reasons, we recommend using Simple as a mileage tracker. It’s a “set it and forget it” tracking option, and you can get it directly on the App Store or Google Play.
Conclusion: Use Software to File and Track
Tax filing has evolved dramatically over the past several years with software to track and file becoming more and more advanced. That's good news for all of us who previously would stress out at the beginning of April.
You don't need to be a hero and understand all of the tax code changes this year. Software like TaxACT will help you import your earnings and guide you through deductions. Meanwhile, methods like bunching deductions may allow you to deduct more. If you have payments you can make early, consider this method.
Lastly, technology has allowed all of us to have the ability to easily track mileage. Apps like Simple will help you start tracking your mileage so you have a complete record and can maximize your deductions.