Tax filing season—everyone’s favorite time of the year! This year, try to make your life easier in the future by better preparing for filing season with this post-tax filing checklist.
Use this IRS checklist for filing taxes to help you get ready early, protect yourself from scammers, and ease any worries you might have about potentially getting audited.
1. Hang on to your tax documents
Surprisingly, many people don’t save copies of their returns, receipts, and other documents they use to do their taxes. It’s important to hang on to such documents in a safe, accessible place. Why? Because in the future, you might be asked to show these documents to back up your tax return.
Keeping this information organized makes it easier if the IRS asks you for it. A good rule of thumb is to keep all records for six years. Yes, it seems like a long time, but better safe than sorry.
2. Keep your documents safe and private
Safeguard your documents and personal information. This applies whether you file online, or you use an accountant or tax preparer.
Tax returns are very sought after by identity thieves, not only for the personal information within them but also for the refund.
So don’t store sensitive information on public computers or use public, unsecured Wi-Fi to send personal financial information.
3. Keep an eye out for identity theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world, so be on the lookout for the signs. Your tax information might be at risk of falling into the wrong hands through no fault of your own, which means you always have to be vigilant.
In recent years, online scammers have been targeting human resources and payroll professionals. They have ruthlessly hacked the system by fraudulently posing as company executives and asking for W-2s.
If you think that you’ve been a victim of identity theft, or would like to better protect yourself against it, reach out to our professional identity theft protection service IDShield and receive immediate assistance.
4. Beware of fraudulent IRS audit scammers
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that people will try to trick you into thinking they’re from the IRS. So, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee collecting a debt, don’t give them any personal information, and definitely don’t make a payment.
The scam of fraudulently pretending to be tax officials is a growing trend. These con artists often use severe threats to bully victims and convince them to make immediate payments.
If you receive one of these calls, you should know immediately that it’s fake, because the IRS doesn’t contact people by phone, e-mail, or in person for an audit or to collect taxes owed. The IRS sends official communications by mail. So don’t respond to, open, or click on any links in emails purporting to be from the IRS. If you think that you may owe taxes, you should contact the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.
5. Prepare if you’re audited
If you’re selected by the IRS for an audit, two words: be ready. However, take comfort that only a small percentage of taxpayers ever actually face an audit. Often, auditors simply want you to clarify a portion of your return rather than fully audit you.
In the event that you are audited, you can prepare yourself by taking advantage of the LegalShield Personal Plan. For less than a dollar a day, you get audit-related legal services.
This includes legal advice before your audit meeting and, if necessary, a lawyer to represent you at a preferred rate significantly lower than usual hourly legal fees. So, if you get notice of an audit, contact LegalShield immediately.
6. Learn from the process and improve for next year
When it comes to filing taxes, there’s always room for improvement. If getting all your documents and personal information together and figuring out your deductions was difficult this year, learn from the process to make next year easier. For example, maybe there’s a better, more efficient way to track your expenses or file your receipts? Do what you can to avoid the same headaches next year.
One way to do this is to have your tax filing checklist in mind throughout the year. Remember, you need all of the following information ready to go:
- Personal information (Social Security number/tax ID number for you, your spouse and children, identity protection PIN, bank routing and account numbers)
- Dependent information (childcare provider’s tax ID number, income of dependents and of other adults in your home, IRS Letter 6419)
- Sources of income (W-2, 1099, record of expenses, business-use asset information, office in home information, rental income, retirement income, savings & investments, other income and losses)
- Deductions (homeownership, charitable donations, medical expenses, health insurance, childcare expenses, educational expenses, state and local taxes, retirement and other savings, federally declared disaster records).
A lawyer can help you navigate taxes
Tax matters are serious, so you can’t go wrong by having a seasoned lawyer’s help.
There are so many benefits of membership, but a customer favorite is legal representation for consumer finance issues, like IRS audits, tax refunds, tax liens, and back taxes owed.
So, whether you have general questions about tax matters or other consumer finance matters, or specific questions about your issue, LegalShield is here to give you all the legal advice you need, and IDShield is ready to assist you with any identity theft-related issues.
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