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As you prepare to complete your tax return, do your best to avoid making the following common mistakes.
The Affordable Care Act impacts more than just whether or not you have health insurance. Find out how the ACA can impact your tax return and your budget.
Many Americans knowingly overpay on their taxes, and then treat their tax return as an annual bonus, rather than what it really is – your money being returned to you.
Yes, you’ve got months to submit your return, but you can complete your return right now and there are at least six compelling reasons why you should do so.
"What's your sign?" is not a question you typically expect to hear from your accountant. Yet according to a 2007 survey by Money Management International (MMI), tax time can be very different for consumers born under different sun signs. For example, the survey found that Libras expecting a refund planned to receive a lot more than people born under the sign Aries. So, if you are like the 70 million Americans who start the day off by reading their horoscope, you may want to look to the stars for insight on what’s in store for your financial future—particularly as tax day approaches. Sign-specific findings included:
Aries (March 21-April 20) Those born under this Fire sign expect the smallest refunds ($1,400). They plan to save (46%) or pay debts (32%).
Taurus (April 21-May 21) Taurus is an Earth sign, associated with practicality. Those born under this sign are the least likely to expect a refund. Of consumers who expect to receive a refund, only 6% were born under this sign.
Gemini (May 22-June 21) Generally known to be logical, Gemini are the most likely to over-withhold on purpose.
Cancer (June 22-July 23) Protective Cancers are not likely to splurge with their refunds. Of those consumers who plan to splurge, less than 1% were born under this Water sign.
Leo (July 24-August 23) Generous Leos are more likely than those born under most other signs to spend their refunds. Of those who plan to splurge, nearly 20% are Leos.
Virgo (August 24-September 23) Practical Virgos are still deciding how to spend their expected tax refunds. In fact, more Virgos than those born under any other sign were “undecided” about what to do with their refunds (14%).
Libra (September 24-October 23) Known for balance, Libras surprisingly expect the largest refunds (an average of $2,200).
Scorpio (October 24-November 22) Scorpios are characterized as being passionate. Of those who plan to splurge with their tax refund, one out of four is a Scorpio.
Sagittarius (November 23-December 21) Sagittarians are known for being optimistic and are not likely to save their refunds. In fact, of those who plan to save, only 5% were born under this sign.
Capricorn (December 22-January 20) Earth signs, like Capricorn, are associated with practicality. Appropriately, Capricorns are not likely to splurge with their refunds. In fact, of those who plan to splurge, less than 1% are Capricorns.
Aquarius (January 21-February 19) Aquarius is an Air sign, associated with thought and perspective. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed Aquarians expecting a refund plan to use it to pay down debts.
Pisces (February 20-March 20) Idealistic Pisces are the least likely to save. In fact, of all those who plan to save, less than 5% are Pisces.
Regardless of your astrological sign, it’s important to have a personal finance strategy that works for your individual needs. Speaking of signs, don’t forget to sign your tax return—forgetting to sign is on the IRS’s list of most common mistakes.
When you are expecting a tax return, it can be hard to wait for those W-2 forms to come in the mail. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait too long; the IRS requires that they are in the mail by February 2 (because January 31 falls on a weekend). However, I’ve seen a lot of commercials recently from companies suggesting that they can help consumers access their money even before their W-2s arrive. I was very curious about this process, but had trouble finding a Web site that spelled out the details.
From my research (I actually let go of the mouse and picked up the phone!), I have learned that these companies are doing this in one of two ways:
1. They download W-2s directly from the larger W-2 providers (ex: ADP or TALX). OR 2. They estimate the amount a consumer will receive from his or her end-of-the-year paychecks(s).
Either way, there are fees for the tax preparation service.
Unfortunately, the next likely outcome is that the consumer applies for a refund anticipation loan. Basically, a refund anticipation loan is a short-term cash advance that uses the expected tax refund as collateral. The loans allows taxpayers to get their money a little bit earlier, but at a hefty price. Unless someone is facing a true financial emergency, the fees are just not worth the convenience.
My advice to taxpayers is to be patient. Refunds come quickly through the use of e-file and direct deposit. The IRS even has a program called Free File that allows most taxpayers e-file their federal tax returns for free.
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