Financial Spring Cleaning in Winter: Tax Tips for CU Members

tax-tipsAfter celebrating the coming of the New Year it dawns on you: tax time is just a few weeks away. Nobody likes tax season, but with a little bit of financial spring cleaning and some insight on how it all works, you can help make what could be a trying and difficult time go a lot smoother. Each year we try to provide some helpful credit union member tax tips that will help you to stay on top of your tax filings. This year your New Bedford credit union has some new ideas that combine tips for proper checking account management, record keeping and some basic common sense that a lot of taxpayers tend to overlook.

Tip #1 – Prepare for Your Taxes All Year Long

It may seem a little late to be thinking about this in the “eleventh hour” of tax time, but you can apply this tip to preparing for next year’s taxes. Beginning with the month of January, do all that you can to start keeping better records of the purchases, investments and other transactions that you will need to report or have proof of when you file your taxes again a year from now. Some people combine basic checking account management, with a properly filled out paper trail or online software management system, with a box system for paper receipts and other forms that will need to be used when they file taxes. Find the method that works best for you so you won’t miss a single opportunity to get a tax credit that you have earned.

Tip #2 – Know the Rules

Did you know that you don’t have to file by April 15th if you are not ready? It is possible to file for a six-month extension that will give you until October 15th. In fact, the rules have changed now so that you don’t even have to provide the IRS with a reason why your taxes aren’t ready to be filed by the April 15th deadline. Fill out Form 4868, either online or print and mail a signed copy, before the 15th of April to get some extra time to get all of your ducks in a row. Just make sure that you read the information provided at www.irs.gov about late fees, interest or penalties that could apply if you owe the government money, so you won’t be caught off guard.

Tip #3 – Seek Support When Needed

It’s okay to ask for help, especially when preparing your taxes. While you can get most of your financial records for the year through your New Bedford credit union, some taxes are more difficult to file than others due to self-employment, specific tax credits and other considerations. Hiring a tax professional could be in your best interest – even if it is just for one extra complicated tax year. Just make sure that you hire a reputable tax preparation service that guarantees the work that they provide for you. Some companies state that they will pay the difference for any mistakes made on your return or represent you in an audit. The benefits that come from using a professional can outweigh the costs for using the service, especially if you are able to get deductions that you might not have otherwise discovered for yourself.

Tip #4 – Keep It Simple

Another benefit of doing a complete financial spring cleaning on your credit union accounts, receipts and other records that you keep throughout the year is that you will be able to quickly and easily find what you are looking for when you need it. Checking account management and record-keeping is more than just throwing receipts into a shoebox and then sorting them out at the end of the year. You need to stay on top of your finances, purchases and investments, keeping the records of each transaction sorted by month and, if you have many different areas to consider, also by the type of transaction you are recording. Create your own system that works with your own unique needs and requirements. Just keep it simple and easy to sort through when the time comes.

Tip #5 – Review the Details Before You File

One of the most common mistakes that taxpayers make is to neglect double-checking their work. Go over your tax forms to make sure you didn’t miss any important details. Check your name, address, social security number, tax ID number and any other information on each and every page for consistency. Make sure that you took all of the credits and deductions that were available to you based on your transactions and investments for the year. The biggest credit union member tax tips with regard to reviewing the details, however, is to make sure that your direct deposit information is correct on your forms. If you are due a refund, you don’t want anything to go wrong or get delayed because you made a mistake with the routing number or account number for your New Bedford credit union accounts.

Take Control of Your Finances – and Taxes!

St Anne Credit Union encourages all of our members to stay on top of their savings and checking account management and to conduct their own financial spring cleaning so that they will be properly prepared to file their taxes by April 15th. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, hire a professional or request more time if you need it to make sure you get it right. The best credit union member tax tips have more to do with reviewing your work, being organized and making sure that you don’t miss out on credits or deductions that you have earned.

For more information on how your New Bedford credit union can help you to take control over your finances and grow your money through proper checking account management, give St Anne Credit Union a call at 508-993-0011. Membership is available to people who work or live in Bristol or Plymouth counties. Call today or stop by to find out more about becoming a credit union member.