“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein
Well, the phones are STILL ringing around the office, but the pace is a bit slower. The dust is truly beginning to settle around here (ok, maybe that’s just pollen).
THANK YOU for trusting us with your finances this year. We know how personal it is to you, and that in this environment we’re all being as careful as possible with how we invest our precious funds! We’re grateful you chose us with that kind of care.
Speaking of tax returns (and personal details)…how would you like to see the current tax returns of our President and Vice President? They’ve been (transparently) released to the public, and are viewable here:
Tax returns can be a very revealing snapshot of the life of a family…and should be treated with care. Which is why you should handle them properly. So, this week, I’m dealing with that topic–as well as a few other questions we often get around here this time of year…
“Real World” Personal Strategy
What You Should Do This Week
It’s a familiar feeling after the taxes are done for our clients.
Relief. An unexpected windfall … or frustration at having to pay *more* taxes! Gratitude for a job well done by their preparer.
Unless you’ve filed for an extension–however you feel about your tax return…chances are, at least it’s done!
But, even now, we do get some questions. So, I thought I would answer some of the basic ones for you.
We’re here for you–even AFTER the tax “season” is done!
1. “When will I get my refund?”
Well, the IRS does seem to have entered the 21st century.
If you had us “e-file” your return, you can check your status right now, or if you had us mail a paper return, after about 3 to 4 weeks.
When you’re checking with the following options, make sure you have a copy of your tax return on hand or know your “filing status”, SSN and the exact dollar amount of the anticipated refund.
* Online: Go to IRS.gov and click on Where’s My Refund. (http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96596,00.html?portlet=4)
* Automated Phone: Call 1-800-829-4477 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for automated refund information.
* In-Person Phone: Call 1-800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your IRS form instructions.
2. “Do I need to keep a copy of my return?”
Yes, for a *minimum* of three years. There’s all kinds of contexts where it’s useful. We do keep one on file, on your behalf, but it’s just smart and safe for you to keep one in a secure place at home.
(I’ve already written about Amended Returns, and you need a copy for that process, of course).
As for the supporting documents from your return, anything that relates to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, retirement, business or rental property, should be kept much longer than the three years.
3. “I think there’s a mistake in my return. What should I do?”
Sometimes, you’ll find a receipt or a documentation after April 15th which really would have changed your prior year tax return. That’s, again, when you might have us file an “Amended Return”. It should be balanced against the cost of doing so, as well as the expected benefit–often these items can be dealt with the following year.
But here are some other, common reasons to amend…
* You neglected to report some income earned.
* You claimed deductions or credits you should not have claimed.
* You did not claim deductions or credits you could have claimed.
* You filed under one filing status, but you should have filed under another.
* You bought a residence and didn’t claim the First Time Homebuyers Credit (or other credits available).
You might have other questions, which I haven’t addressed here. Let me know!