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March 20, 2019

Tax Time Tips

Lady handing over a check

Andrea Reid, Events and Community Relations Administrator, Provident Bank

Christina Farmer, Communications Coordinator, Provident Bank 

Andrea Reid, Events and Community Relations Administrator, Provident Bank, has some experience in financial services. Andrea processed tax returns from January through April and worked directly with CPA’s and tax preparers. She quickly learned what works and what doesn’t work for a successful and efficient tax filing.

Its tax season again. Are you filing your first income tax this year? Have you filed for the last 20 years and think you’re a tax pro? For first timers, filing your income tax returns may sound frightening, but if you take a deep breath and do your research, you may find it is not as scary as it may seem. As for the pros, there are some tips you should know to make the whole process easier.

  • When it comes to your tax preparation appointment, organization pays!  Make sure you arrive with your documents and statements already opened and grouped by category.  This can save a considerable amount of time off of your appointment – and since accountants can charge $150-450 per hour for their services, you could end up saving big by taking a little time to open those envelopes and unseal your W-2’s!

 

  • Not sure where to start with this year’s tax return? Look no further than your filing cabinet!  Your prior year return is one of the best resources for assembling and preparing your current return.  It will help to ensure you’ve included all of your pertinent forms for this year, plus highlight any major changes to your situation that may affect your tax filing.  Use your prior-year’s return to create a checklist of all documentation you will need for your tax appointment: W-2’s, statements, receipts, etc.  Or you can save time and find some helpful Tax Prep checklists online.  Having to go back and add missing forms later can increase your tax prep fees!   

 

  • How do you fare with Fair Market Valuations? If you donated clothing and/or personal property in 2018, you are responsible for determining the Fair Market Value of your donated property – that is, an item’s reasonable selling price.  Make sure to track this information along with any donation receipts and acknowledgements you received.  Itemize, and even take photos of your donation bundles throughout the year so you’re not left scrambling at tax time!  If you’re not sure where to start in assessing your items’ values, there are a number of non-profits, including the Salvation Army, which provide Donation Value Guides online as a resource for donors. 

 

  • If you file your taxes on your own but still have questions for a professional – go digital!  Accountants and CPA’s, even in your local area, often utilize marketing tools like blogs and podcasts during tax season that can offer a wealth of information (while promoting their tax prep services, of course!)  Check out Your Financial Choices on WDIY 88.1 FM hosted by CPA and CFP® Laurie Siebert from Bethlehem, PA – you can even call in with questions! 

 

Everyone’s tax situation is different.  This article presents only some of the basic information you may find helpful.  If your situation is complicated, or if you do not feel comfortable with any part of preparing your return, find and use the services of a qualified tax professional.

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