Monday, Jan. 23 is the official start of the 2023 tax filing season, meaning that it is now time to get your tax information in order. Filing early is especially important these days if you don't want a possible delay in getting your tax refund.
Justus Lowe was filing his taxes for the first time, so he decided to get help from Liberty Tax.
"This is my first year not being a dependent," he said, "the first year doing my taxes on my own."
Getting help his first time was probably a smart move, according to office owner Gina Pinto, who says recent tax changes are confusing for some people.
"This year, the IRS made a lot of changes due to the end of the pandemic benefits," she said.
She says the changes are already leaving some of her clients with smaller refunds.
"The child tax credit went back to $2,000. Last year, it was $3,600," she said, which means less money back for some of her customers.
Have the paperwork ready as soon as possible
With the IRS facing staffing shortages for the third year in a row, and continued problems and delays at the US Postal Service, preparers say it's more important than ever this year to have your paperwork ready to go as soon as possible.
Mark Steber of Jackson Hewitt says there are three valuable lessons learned from the past three years.
1. If you want to avoid a delay, don't file a paper tax return.
"Paper returns were slow even before the pandemic, and it's certainly not gotten any faster with the IRS having staffing challenges,” Hewitt said.
2. File your tax return electronically.
3. If you're getting a refund, make sure you request a direct deposit into your bank account.
"It gets there faster, gets there safer," he said
Steber also suggests organizing tax documents into four folders. The first folder should be labeled "income," with the second folder labeled "deductions."
"I like my income items, paper clipped together," Steber said. "I like deductions and credit information—things that you spend on your business—all together."
The third folder, he says, should contain Information related to life changes like a marriage or new child.
And lastly, he suggests creating a folder for other miscellaneous items.
"Ask your pro," he said. "It could be a tax break"
All of this helps whether you are filing yourself or at a preparer's office.
Steber has one last tip: filing doesn't mean paying.
You're allowed to file taxes now, but if you may owe money, you can wait to pay until April.
That way you don't waste your money.
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