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Before long, it’ll be 2014, and you’ll need to think of filing your income tax return. Don’t freak out, you’ve time. But it’s crucial to make the right decisions to stay clear of paying even more tax than you need to, and to prepare correctly for the following tax year. Here are 10 bad tax moves that everybody must prevent.

1. Paying Your Taxes Late (Or Not at All)

The IRS reports that in between 20 and 25 percent of taxpayers wait up until the last 2 weeks to file their taxes. It may be common to cut it close, but you don’t want to blow right through it. The Internal Profits Service will nail you with a 5 % failure-to-file charge for any overdue taxes each month till you file. You might’ve the ability to stay clear of some charges by filing an extension, however that extra time is only for submitting a return, it doesn’t mean you get even more time to pay taxes due. Your best option is to get your documentation together and file prior to the due date.

2. Lying on Your Return

It might be appealing to prevent telling the IRS about some earnings, overemphasizing things to declare reductions, or otherwise fudging things in order to stay clear of paying taxes. And it’s real that the IRS just audits a really small portion of returns. However if you do get nailed, you’ll be required to pay a charge of 75 % of the understatement, according to the IRS. Egregious cases will be referred to the criminal investigations division.

3. Making Mistakes on Your Return

No one suches as doing their taxes, but if you hurry through them and make an error, it might cost you. If you mistakenly understate the amount you owe, you might wind up dealing with a 20 % penalty. (And that’s only if you can prove to the IRS that it was an error and not fraud.) Clerical mistakes like misspelling your name or getting in the wrong social security number will delay your return.

Hiring an expert to do your taxes will lower the chance of mistakes. If you prefer to do your own taxes, make use of a program like TurboTax, which instantly checks for mistakes.

4. Withholding Too Much (or Insufficient)

If you’re employed, taxes will be taken out of your paycheck, but it’s essential to make sure you’re not getting too much or insufficient. If your withholding is off base, you might be stuck owing a large sum or getting too much in a refund. (Yes, a big refund can be a bad thing. It means the government’s been hanging on to your cash for no reason.)

Your withholding is identified by the information you fill out on your W-4 type, which you most likely filled out when you got employed. This includes info on your marital condition and the variety of dependents in your home. (Be sure to adjust your withholding if you’ve a kid, get wed, or if you’re taking care of an elderly relative.) The IRS has a calculator to help you figure this out, but it’s up to you to alter the W-4 type itself.

5. Investing Without Thinking of Taxes

Taxes on dividends and capital gains will eliminate a huge portion of your return on financial investments. Rates differ, however high-income earners could give back as much as 23.8 % of their capital gains to the IRS. For the majority of individuals saving for retirement, it’s a good idea to think about a strategy that provides a method to avoid or minimize these taxes, or to otherwise reduce your liability.

If your employer offers a 401(k), any cash you contribute is taken off from your taxable income. A Roth Individual Retirement Account works in reverse – your contributions are taxed instantly, however you pay no taxes when you cash out down the road. Lots of monetary consultants recommend having both of these accounts, due to the fact that it’s difficult to forecast exactly what tax bracket you’ll be in when you retire.

Also have a look at 529 strategies and Coverdell ESA accounts for similar tax advantages on university and other educational costs.

6. Not Staying up to date with Tax News

It’s easy to understand that the ordinary individual won’t understand all of the ins and outs of the tax code. However keeping up with changes in tax policy will assist you prepare for negative changes and also help you capitalize on brand-new programs. In lots of instances you might qualify for brand-new tax credits or deductions that you didn’t even know existed.

In 2013, marginal tax rates will be the same for many individuals, however the payroll tax vacation ended, suggesting a 6.2 % withholding rate for people making up to $113,000. (Have you seen less cash in your take-home pay?)

There were likewise some other changes impacting greater earners in 2013, and the new Affordable Care Act could’ve significant implications for many Americans and their taxes. Don’t get caught by surprise.

7. Renting When You Can Buy

We’ll concede that the choice to buy a home is an individual one, and not one you ought to hurry into. But from a tax perspective, there’s considerable cost savings to be had. Homeowners have the ability to claim a home mortgage interest deduction on their taxes, and often will qualify for various other tax credits and programs.

Your specific savings will rely on the amount of you earn, as well as your rate of interest and the size of your loan. But let’s assume you’re a married couple with an earnings of $100,000 and house priced at about $210,000 (the existing national average.) According to Bankrate.com, you’ll conserve more than $3,000 on your taxes in the first year with a 30-year loan at the existing typical fixed rate.

Homeowners do normally need to pay regional property taxes, but those are deductible from your federal tax costs.

If you’re weighing the benefits and drawbacks of buying a house, it’s handy to take these savings into account.

8. Treating Your Refund Like It’s a Bonus

Every year at tax time, we hear individuals talking about exactly how they’ll spend their tax refund, as if it’s a spring benefit check from Uncle Sam. This is horribly flawed thinking. If you get a refund, it indicates that the government has held on to your money for the majority of the year. (See the above entry on tax withholding.) Moreover, tax refunds aren’t quickly predictable, so it’s dangerous to assume you’ll be getting a specific quantity. The most intelligent move is to budget as if no refund is coming. It could even assist to set aside some funds in case you owe the taxman.

If you do get a refund, withstand the urge to get a refund anticipation loan, which can take out hundreds of dollars in charges.

9. Not Giving to Charity

There are evident advantages to distributing a part of your cash to causes and individuals you care about. It helps society and makes you feel good, but it can likewise help you lower your tax bill.

When you offer to a charity, that cash can be subtracted from your taxable income. And it’s not just money that’s deductible. You can subtract donated products like food or garments, and you can even take off any mileage on your vehicle that you incur while carrying out charity work.

When my household recently remodelled our residence, we discovered a charity that took our old windows and doors and repurposed them, we got a large tax reduction while doing so. If you’ve an old automobile you want to unload, consider donating that to charity also.

To make the most of these reductions, you’ll need to keep great records exactly what you offer, and record those deductions on your tax return.

10. Keeping Poor Records

Records are crucial to everything from proving incomes, properly valuing investments, and identifying business expenses.

When you get wage statements from your employer, keep them convenient. The exact same opts for any statements connecting to your brokerage accounts and retirement. Numbers like your salary and retirement contributions aren’t things you wish to guess on, as they’ve a direct influence on how much tax you pay.

It’s also essential to save previous years’ returns. The IRS suggests you to conserve at least 3 years of returns, and some individuals advise to never ever throw out a return, ever.

Also keep records of any financial investments or significant things you buy. It’s usual for people to buy things like shares of stock or equipment then assert capital losses or depreciation on their taxes. However to do this, you’ve to prove when you made the purchases.

Any tax mistakes I’ve missed? Please share them in remarks!