AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2016 tax season kicks off Jan. 19 and Augusta University Accounting Professor Joey Styron is offering the following tips to help you maximize your refund.
- File your taxes sooner, rather than later: Don’t wait until the last minute to file. Rushing to meet the deadline will only increase your chances of making an error and you may even overlook possible tax savings.
- Keep good records:Before you file, get organized. Have your W-2s, 1099s, receipts, and any other applicable records, like donations to charitable organizations. Also, review your checkbook, credit card statements, and bank statements and create a list of items that could be considered deductibles.
- Get smart about your filing status: There are numerous filing statuses that have different standard deduction amounts and different tax rate schedules. So, it is important to choose the right status. If you are married, increase your chances of a larger refund by filing jointly. Singles should file as individuals unless they qualify as head of household. Filing as head of household is more advantageous than filing as single. However, to file as head of household, you must provide a home for a qualifying child or other qualifying relative.
- Think about your familial obligations: The expenses resulting from taking care of children or aging parents can be considered deductibles. Although child support is not deductible, alimony is as well as health care for the family.
- Do not forget those professional expenses: Another itemized deduction to be considered is job-related expenses. Any out-of-pocket expenses related to your job that is not compensated by your company may be claimed on your income taxes. This is another great way to maximize your refund.
- E-filing: Opting to file your taxes online can save you a lot of hassle. Many software programs will do the calculations for you and some even have audit protection tools built-in, which help you find mistakes before you submit your return.
- Get a jump on the next tax season: Filing your own taxes gives you an inside look into where your money is going. Begin making financial adjustments now so you can increase your chances of getting a larger return next year.
Joey Styron is the director of the Knox School of Accountancy in the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University. His research on topics such as tax planning and executive compensation has been featured in numerous publications including the Journal of Accountancy and Tax Notes International. Styron earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston and received his doctoral degree in accounting from Texas A & M University.