IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Tax experts offer tips for preparing returns

With tax season upon us, tax experts are ready with advice on everything from document preparation to deductions and credits.
/ Source: The Associated Press

With tax season upon us, tax experts are ready with advice.

"Everybody needs to put some effort into understanding what the law is for 2010, how things changed, how things didn't change," said Greg Rosica, tax partner at Ernst & Young.

Some pointers:

  • Documents. "Get your records in order, get everything together, don't be in a rush," said Barbara Weltman, author of tax guides for J.K. Lasser. Needed records include W-2s, 1099s and receipts for charitable deductions.
  • Deductions and credits. Make sure you're claiming every one you're entitled to, said Turbotax Vice President Bob Meighan. For example, he said, if you volunteer at the food kitchen you can't deduct your time but you can deduct your mileage to get there. Don't underestimate the value of goods you donate to charity.
  • Check for errors. "Review, review, review," the Internal Revenue Service says. Don't forget to include your Social Security number and sign your return.
  • Don't go it alone. "Software serves as a double-check," said Mark Luscombe, a principal tax analyst at CCH. So do professional preparers.
  • File electronically. "You're going to get a more accurate return," says Terry Lemons, chief spokesman for the IRS. It also will help speed your refund, especially if you choose direct deposit.
  • Remember the deadlines. This year, taxpayers have until April 18 to file 2010 tax returns.
  • Look ahead. It's not too early to start planning for your 2011 taxes. Are you having too much tax — or too little — withheld from your paycheck? Should you be doing more to save for retirement — and lower your tax liability in doing that? Are you considering selling a house or business? If so, you might want to consider doing it this year, when capital gains rates are still low. "All items ought to be on the list and examined," Rosica says.