3 Ways to Increase Your 2015 IRS Tax Refund

Want to get all the money you can when it comes to your 2015 IRS Tax Refund?  Contrary to what most people believe, it’s not hard to prepare your taxes correctly and get a bigger tax break than ever before.  All you need are a few tips on how to file your taxes, like these 3 ways to increase your 2015 IRS Tax Refund and you’re on your way to the best tax season ever!

First, taxpayers should know that by pre-thinking thier tax return just a little bit can mean big savings when tax time rolls around in January.  In fact, most people don’t think about taxes at all until they get a W-2 in the mail from their employer.

So, what are you waiting for- these 3 tips don’t take any time at all, and could result in a huge payoff in your 2015 IRS Tax Refund.  Let’s get started!

Tax Saving Tip #1: Get Ready For Retirement

Did you know that if you contribute to the right type of retirement plan, you can boost your 2015 IRS Tax Refund?  If your put money into a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) this year, you’ll save money immediately, by getting a deduction, which will increase your 2015 IRS Tax Refund.  If you contribute to a Roth IRA, the tax savings will be realized when you draw on your retirement account, after you retire.

Either way, you’re saving for retirement and saving on your taxes!

Tax Saving Tip #3: Improve Your Home With Solar

Now’s the time, homeowners, to consider going solar.  There’s a 30% tax credit for solar energy systems.  That means if you spend $5000 on solar equipment, you’ll get a nice $1500 increase in your 2015 IRS Tax Refund.  But don’t wait- it ends in 2016.

Solar isn’t the only home improvement you can apply this tax credit to…install geothermal heat pumps and you still get the 30% tax credit.  Sames goes for small wind turbines.

Tax Saving Tip #4: Educate Yourself

You can increase your 2015 IRS Tax Refund by as much as $2000 just by taking some classes to update your career!  Taxpayers with a moderate income should look into the Lifetime Learning Credit, which gives 20% of tuition expenses.  Take a course that costs $250 and you get a tax credit of $50.  Take a thousand dollar course and you’ll get a $200 increase to your 2015 IRS Tax Refund.  Nice!

As you can see, all three money-saving tips for your federal tax return are also things that are good for you, even without the tax benefits.  It’s a win-win situation, with a double win for you!

2 Quick Ways to Boost Next Year’s Income Tax Refund

It may be nowhere near tax filing season, but you can be working on improving your tax situation all year round.  How?  These two quick methods that you can start doing right now will save you money on your tax return, thereby increasing your income tax refund the very next time you file with the IRS.

Don’t wait until the last moment to do these things, because statistically speaking…you won’t!  Learn about these techniques right now and you’ll be developing good habits that will eventually become natural to you…for a money saving lifestyle in the years to come!

So here’s what you can do right now, even though tax filing season may not begin for another few months and the tax filing deadline may be six months away or even more.  The point is: there’s no time like the present to start these things that will boost next year’s income tax refund.

Tip #1: Sign Up For Health Insurance

Hopefully you’ve already done this.  Sign  up through the national Health Insurance Marketplace and you may be eligible for the brand new tax credit that goes along with the launching of the marketplace.  It’s all under the guide of the Affordable Care Act and the credit is called the premium tax credit.  You’re eligible if you have a moderate income but can’t get health insurance through your employer. Also, you must sign up for your health insurance through the marketplace, rather than directly with a health insurance company.

Tip #2: Keep Good Records of Everything

Most deductions require some sort of documentation:

  • unreimbursed employee business expenses
  • tax costs such as tax advice you paid for
  • legal fees
  • professional fees
  • business travel
  • charity donations

You get the idea…the list is seemingly endless of things you can deduct on your federal income tax return.  They all require records be kept, so find a way that works for you: a shoebox might work for some, but there are tons of online digital storage solutions these days.  Users simply scan their receipts and they’re stored digitally until their needed the most.  Some financial accounting software that’s commonly used in businesses comes with an add-on that takes scanned documents and attaches them to the transaction in the software.  Then, when tax time comes it pulls tax info plus receipts in one quick motion!  Quicken is an example of financial software that has digital storage of things like receipts.

3 Money Saving Tips That May Affect Your Online Refund Status

If you’re self-employed, chances are you’re always looking for ways to save money for your business.  If you’re like most self-employed people, taxes are a huge concern for you, too.  That’s why we’ve assembled these three money saving tips, so you can start saving now.  Start now, and your online refund status may just have a better outlook next time tax season rolls around.

So, without further delay, here they are: the 3 top money saving tips for self-employed individuals…

1.  Save money with work expenses and related fees.  This is one of the most commonly missed tax deductions for self-employed people.  It’s also one that creates mistakes because some try and claim this type of deduction without knowing how.  That can seriously affect your Online Refund Status in a big way by delaying the processing of your return and therefor your refund as well!

To get this one right, look in every corner of your business life for expenses which you may currently be overlooking.  Make sure it’s a business only expense.  That’s where many people make a mistake.  They include expenses which are only partially business related.

2.  The Home Office Deduction.  This is a big one…more mistakes are made and more Online Refund Status delays are created by incorrectly claiming the home office deduction than any other type of deduction.

That’s why the IRS has finally done something about it and simplified the way self-employed individuals actually go about claiming this one.  Now, the calculations are easier than ever.  All you do is take the square footage of the home office space and multiply by $5 to get your deduction.  Couldn’t be any simpler!

3.  Business Travel and Education.  If you travel for your job to seminars, conferences, training or other things, there’s another deduction for you.  When you’re self-employed, keeping up to date is important because you don’t have the benefit of daily interaction with other professionals in your field.  It may become more important than ever to travel to conferences, get extra training or attend meetings in other cities.

The costs for this type of travel is deductible, so take advantage of this money-saving deduction by keeping immaculate records when you travel for business.  Even things like taxi rides are deductible.

These are just some of the money-saving tax deductions available to self-employed individuals.  Make sure you get all yours when you file your federal taxes, every year by using the proper tax preparation software for the job.

Tips to Help You So You’re Not Asking, “IRS Where’s My Refund?” Week After Week

You may not be thinking of it right now, but come tax time you’re going to be all over it!  What we’re talking about if course is your IRS refund.  Every year millions of taxpayers file their federal tax returns and expect a refund.  The arrival of the refund payment is like winning the lottery for many people, since it’s often the largest chunk of money they’ll ever see at once, outside of a nice paycheck with overtime.

Therefore, after tax filing season begins there’s a frenzied rush to wait for refunds…yes it’s a hurry up and wait game where there’s really nothing the taxpayer can do to speed up the process once the tax return has been filed.

But what about before taxes are filed?  Is there anything taxpayers can do to help speed along the processing time of their return?  Yes and no, according to the IRS.  You can do things which will help avoid having your tax return delayed (we’ll give you a short checklist of things below).  You see, although there’s no set time period any more, letting taxpayers know when to expect their refund, there is a window of time during which it’s reasonably expected you should receive your refund.

So here we go: things you can do to help ensure a timely arrival of your IRS refund so you’re not asking Where’s my refund? week after week and wondering what happened.

  1. Check for typos.  The slightest discrepancy in the way you spell your name or if you get your SSN wrong (heaven forbid) will send the IRS tax return processing computers into a tailspin…”Fraud Alert!  Fraud Alert!” is what that type of type screams out to them.
  2. Beware the Home Office Deduction.  This causes more tax returns to be double-checked since it’s definitely an area where taxpayers often make mistakes (intentionally or not, they’ll get your tax return hung up in the works for long periods of time).
  3. Report ALL your income.  If you forget a W2 or a 1099 that’ll pretty much guarantee that your IRS refund will get delayed.  You see, the IRS knows about all the reported sources of income you get because they get copies of all your W2s and various types of 1099s, too.  When you file your taxes they expect them all to be there and if they’re not well they’ve got you…sure fire way to slow down the processing of your tax return and delay your refund indefinitely until it’s all cleared up.
  4. Don’t take too large a deduction for Charitable Donations.  That looks so suspicious in the eyes of the IRS!  Giving $100,000 to charity that year?  Well the IRS doesn’t believe anybody’s that generous (and neither do we!) so they’re going to investigate the heck out of that one.
  5. Claiming a loss on rental property.  So many people got involved in real estate during the boom and bust that the IRS started having to investigate further lots of the real estate claims on taxpayers’ returns.  Turns out people are trying anything they can think of to pull money from their real estate, including claiming fraudulent “loss’ on rental property.  Well even if you truly had this type of loss, you’ll suffer because this is something the IRS really investigates nowadays…hence a delayed tax refund from the IRS.

 

Get the New IRS Tax Refund Tracking App

Love checking the status of your federal tax refund?  Then if you don’t already have the IRS’s new IRS Tax Refund Tracking app, you’re missing out.  It’s called IRS2Go and it’s available for both iPhones and smartphones with Android.

IRS Tax Refund Tracking Made Easy

The primary use for IRS2Go is tracking your IRS tax refund status.  Once you’ve given the app a few key pieces of personal information so it’s been established that it’s really you requesting the info, you can get up to date info on what’s happening with your IRS refund.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Enter your Social Security Number
  2. Choose your filing status from a short list- only you would know this so it’s really a type of security question
  3. Enter a number: the refund amount you’re expecting.  Again, only you would know this since it’s taken directly from your tax return.

Now you can obsessively check the status of your IRS tax refund any time, any where you have cell phone reception.

When Can I Use the App?

After you e-file (submit your tax return electronically rather than mailing in a paper form) wait 72 hours (that’s 3 days) then your info should be in there for checking.

If you filed a paper return then it really doesn’t make any sense that you’d be using the app…think about it.  But if you find yourself in this oxymoronic situation of having filed your tax return using the ancient paper method, but then wanting to use the latest digital technology to check your refund status, feel free…but you’ll have to wait three to four weeks before you can do so!

On that note, if you did file a paper tax return you’re now in the minority.  70% of taxpayers filed electronically in 2013*.

Other Things You Can do With the IRS2Go App

Besides performing some IRS tax refund tracking, you can also get daily tax tips. Ooh doesn’t that sound like fun!  To get this exciting feature going, simply give the IRS your email address and you’re ready to go.  Get reminders and tax tips written in plain English (or as plain as the IRS is able to make them).  Learn about exciting topics such as:

  • child tax credits
  • education credits
  • free tax help
  • the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit)
  • the Home Office Deduction
  • the Standard Deduction for the current tax year
  • the Personal Exemption for the current tax year
  • IRS tax brackets
  • and much much more

*source: the IRS website.

3 IRS Tax Refund Status Tips You Probably Don’t Know

Although you may not be thinking of your IRS tax refund status right now, it might be worth a minute to browse these tips.  They could save you some aggravation come tax time next year.  What we have here are 3 IRS tips you probably don’t know…take a look:

1.  Check out the New Simplified Home Office Deduction.  Used to be, if you had a home office and wanted a deduction for use of your home and resources to run that space, claiming that deduction was quite the process.  The IRS hasn’t relaxed its rules a bit…you still must be sure that no other activity goes on in that deducted office space except office-related business.  You can’t put a guest bed in there, for example because then there’s debate about whether it’s a home office or a spare bedroom.

You also must use the office regularly …not just once a year to file taxes!  Also, if you watch movies on your home office computer, technically you’re violating the rules and it’s not exclusively a home office any longer.  They’re very strict on this.

But what the IRS has done is make it wayyyyy easier to claim the deduction in the first place.  Turns out lots more people have home offices now…blame it on the recession.  In the past, taxpayers had to fill out IRS Form 8829 but now all you have to do is fill out a worksheet that comes with Schedule C.  Take the square footage of your office space and multiply that by $5.  You get to deduct up to 300 square feet, which is max of $1500 per year.

2.  Do it Yourself.  Nowadays with the advent of awesome tax filing software and the home PC or tablet, most individuals can easily and quickly (not to mention cheaply) file their own tax return with the IRS (and states).  Paying someone to do it for you opens you up to the ever-growing risk of tax fraud.  You see, the profession of tax preparer is loosely regulated, and every year thousands of taxpayers turn over their personal data to scammers who then file fraudulent returns and keep lots if not all of the client’s tax refund.  Do yourself a favor and file for free online with any of the major tax prep companies.

3.  Get Medical Insurance.  The fee for not having medical insurance in 2014 is only $95.  Some of you may have forgone a policy simply because the penalty isn’t that bad.  Beware, however: that fine goes up each year…by a lot.  Get it now if you haven’t already because the fine will be upwards of around $700 come 2016.

How to Make the Best of Your 2014 IRS Tax Refund

Are you expecting a 2014 IRS Tax Refund?  Before you spend it on $300 jeans or a flat screen TV, consider spending your refund in the following ways.  It could mean a lot to your future self!

  1. Start an IRA.  No really, it’s a smart way to invest an extra stash of cash like an IRS refund.  Put it in a retirement account and you’ve discovered a pain-free way to save for your golden years.  It’s pain free because you’re not taking money from your regular paycheck (you’ve already done that by having too much taken out in the first place, which is why you’re getting an IRS refund).  You won’t even miss it.
  2. Join Lending Club.  If you’ve got cash to spare, then consider peer to peer lending.  You front the cash, and Lending Club finds people who need loans.  You get pretty good returns because of the interest rates the borrowers pay.  It’s risky since it’s not insured by the FDIC.  Same as stocks…there is risk involved.
  3. Pay off existing debt.  Of course this option should have been option number one.  The golden rule of personal finance is that debt comes first.  No matter what expenses you have, debt is what you should pay off first.  Even if your 2014 IRS tax refund is a few hundred dollars and you owe thousands, paying off just that amount will help you save in interest payments right away.
  4. Put it in a Health Savings Account. You can get cheaper health insurance if you have an approved Health Savings Account (HSA) and a high deductible insurance plan.  The money you put into this account is tax deductible.  That means less taxes paid by you!
  5. How about just save it?  Did you ever consider that?  You don’t have to spend your tax refund at all.  Not all money needs to be spent right away.  Just let it sit in a savings account for future needs.  Radical, right?