How to Maximize your 2016 Tax Refund

As we approach March, tax season is in full swing. By now, you should have received your W2s and all the other paperwork you will need to file your taxes. If you do have all your paperwork together and you expect a refund, it is best to file sooner rather than later, because the longer you wait, the longer you allow the IRS to keep your hard-earned money interest free. Tax Law Code

When you file your income taxes, it is important to take advantage of all the deductions and credits available to you. Not doing so amounts to leaving money on the table, and you most likely agree that you are better at spending your money than the government.

Here are some tips to help you get the most from your tax refund this year:

Itemize your Deductions if Possible: You have the choice between itemizing your deductions and taking the standard deduction. For 2015, the standard deduction is $6,300 for single filers, $12,600 for married filing jointly, and $9,250 for heads of household. If you own a home and have mortgage interest and property taxes to deduct, you will almost certainly want to itemize. However, you may be able to itemize even if you do not own a home. Some other expenses you can itemize include charitable contributions, state and local income or sales taxes, unreimbursed business expenses, and job search expenses. If you go through your receipts, you may find that itemizing will be to your advantage.

Look for ‘Above the Line’ Deductions you May be Eligible For: There are some deductions (commonly referred to as above the line deductions) that you can take even if you do not itemize. Examples include teacher’s expenses for school supplies, alimony, IRA contributions, student loan interest, moving expenses (if you meet certain requirements), and self-employment tax.

Take Advantage of Refundable Credits: Many taxpayers, particularly those who did not pay much in taxes, do not take advantage of certain tax credits that are available to them. The Earned Income Tax Credit is perhaps the most often overlooked. The EITC provides working families with a refundable dollar for dollar credit of up to $6,269. Refundable means you can receive this credit even if you did not pay in that much during the tax year.

Claim all your Dependents: Most taxpayers do not forget to claim their children as dependents, so this may seem like common knowledge. However, you may not be aware that you might also be able to claim a friend or relative you are supporting. For example, if a non-relative lived with you the entire year, earned less than $4,000 and did not provide more than half of his/her own support, you may be able to claim them as a dependent.

Make Contributions to your IRA: Many people believe that contributions to a qualified retirement account are only deductible until December 31 of the tax year. However, the actual deadline for this deduction is your tax filing deadline, which happens to be Monday, April 18, 2016. If you have extra money you have been thinking of putting into your IRA and have not reached the maximum deductible amount for the 2015 tax year, now may be a good time to make these contributions.

Speak with a Local CPA: There are numerous other deductions and credits that may be applicable to you and help you maximize your refund. Though many of them come up on the popular software programs, it is not always clear which ones you are eligible for. Speak with a local accounting firm about your specific circumstances to identify any and all ways to reduce your 2015 tax liability.

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