It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season, the IRS has advised in seven new planning tips published on its website. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, the IRS stated that taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family circumstances, maintain accurate tax records, and more, in order to reduce the probability of a surprise tax bill when the next filing season arrives.
IRS Recommended Action Steps
Specifically, the IRS advised the taxpayers take the following steps now to jump start a successful 2016 filing season for their 2015 tax year returns:
- Consider filing a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with an employer if certain life circumstances have changed (such as a change in marital status or the birth of a child). A new child could mean an additional exemption and/or tax credits that might lower your tax liability. Therefore you might benefit from claiming an extra withholding allowance. Conversely, getting married (or divorced) could change your income, making it advantageous to readjust your withholding accordingly.
- Report any changes or projected changes in income to the Health Insurance Marketplace (if taxpayer obtained insurance through a marketplace). Income affects the calculation of subsidy payments. Recipients of the advance premium tax credit may owe tax for 2015 if their subsidy payments are too high.
- Maintain accurate and organized tax records, such as home loan documents or financial aid documents. Many deductions must be substantiated with evidence, and staying organized now could facilitate the tax return filing process in the future.
- Find a tax return preparer. Looking for a qualified tax return preparer may be easier in the off-season, when you are under no immediate pressure to select a person. This can provide taxpayers with more time to evaluate a preparer’s credentials.
- Plan to increase itemized deductions. If a taxpayer plans to purchase a house, contribute to charity, or incur medical expenses that may not be reimbursed during 2015, it may be beneficial to consider whether itemizing deductions would be more beneficial than claiming the standard deduction for 2015.
- Stay informed of the latest tax law changes. Keeping on top of developments can reduce confusion in the long run.