360 tax

BY: Michael McDonald / GoBankingRates

February 12, 2016

Tax season is almost here, and with it comes all the usual issues of paperwork and confusion. But this year might be especially difficult as there are several new developments on the tax front.

With that said, here are 11 things you need to know when filing your tax return this year.

1. Tax Accountants Get Swamped Closer to Tax Season

The earlier you start collecting documents and figuring out how you are going to file your taxes, the better. Many accountants might find themselves too busy to help procrastinators who wait until April to start the process.

“There are literally hundreds of changes, extensions and deletions that we will consider this year when preparing returns for our clients,” said accountant William Rivero of accounting firm Correia, Rivero & LeFebvre. “Because of these changes, we are requesting our clients try to have their information to us no later than March 21, 2016.” Early preparation for filing helps avoid everything from document issues to accountant time constraints.

2. Methods of Tax Filing Are Evolving

The way that people actually file their taxes is evolving, with many opting for tax preparation software over filing by hand.For example, TurboTax offers free and affordable services to help you fill out your tax returns. However, this software can cost as much as $79.99 if you’re self-employed or a small business owner. The IRS offers Free File Software, but it’s only available to those whose annual income is below $62,000. If your income is above $62,000, the IRS offers Free File Fillable Forms, but you must know how to do your taxes yourself.

If your income is less than $62,000, visit one of New York States Facilitated Self Assistance (FSA) sites to prepare and electronically file your own federal and state returns—for FREE. Click here to learn more.

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to various tax-filing methods, and taxpayers should spend a bit of time choosing the method that is right for them.

3. The IRS Is Trying to Prevent Identity Theft

With new changes in technology, the IRS is increasingly concerned about tax-filing-related identity theft. There have been many stories in the news in recent years about criminals stealing people’s identities and then using those identities to file false tax returns. But during the 2016 tax season, new security measures are expected to prevent this.

According to a statement on its website, the IRS is partnering with state tax administrators and tax leaders to protect consumers against identity theft refund fraud by using more than 20 new data elements on tax returns this year.

“We are breaking new ground in the battle against identity theft,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Taxpayers will have more protection than ever when they file their tax returns.”

 

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