As you prepare to file your tax returns, you should also be planning to maximize them, reduce your tax bill and/or get the biggest refund you can. Many unseasoned tax payers are not sure how to do this and feel reluctant to make claims due to their lack of knowledge. For their benefit, we present some simple, key steps to planning and maximizing your return.
Know your bracket
The IRS has seven income tax brackets and which one you fall into depends on your level of income. First, know what percentage of your income you are required to pay, then understand that you will not actually pay those percentages on your full income. This is because you will be able to make deductions from your taxable income. So first determine your tax bracket, then break down your income into the prescribed income types that you earn. Each part of your income will be taxed differently.
Tax deductions and credits
Next, make sure that you know the difference between tax deductions and tax credits. Tax deductions are expenses you’ve incurred that you can subtract from your taxable income. Credits actually give you a dollar-for-dollar reduction on your tax bill. Once you understand how these work, you then need to find out which deductions and credits you are actually eligible for. Often people don’t even know that they can deduct certain expenses from their tax. You need to claim for each and every deduction you are eligible for, so make a point of knowing them all. There are hundreds and not all of them will be applicable to you. If you want to maximize your return, make use of every permissible, applicable deduction you can find.
Know when to take the standard deduction
The IRS offers a standard, no-questions asked deduction, which you can choose to take or you can opt for an itemized deduction that is calculated from your specific mix of deductions. Which one you choose to take will depend on the higher amount. If you can submit an itemized list of deductions and it comes up to more than the standard deduction, then you should itemize your deduction. If not, it’s best to opt for the standard one.