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Five Tips to Increase Your Federal Refund

by Kimberly Johnson
Five Tips to Increase Your Federal Refund

Five Tips to Increase Your Federal Refund

Five Tips to Increase Your Federal RefundDozens of new tax laws could impact your 2009 federal taxes. Experts recommend taking extra time and care with this year’s return so you don’t miss out on any tax breaks.
TaxACT suggests these five easy ways to maximize your federal refund:

  1. Get organized. Gather your tax documents and organize by category. Locate records related to events including unemployment, college, new vehicles, having or adopting children, buying a house, moving and changing jobs. New tax laws may give you bigger breaks for those events.
  2. Contribute to your traditional IRA. If you were under 70-1/2 years of age at the end of 2009, contributing to your traditional IRA through April 15, 2010, can lower your 2009 tax bill. You and your spouse can contribute up to $5,000 each ($6,000 if age 50 or older at the end of 2009). Depending on your filing status, modified adjusted gross income and whether you or your spouse were covered by a retirement plan, your deduction may be limited.
  3. Use tax preparation software. Free and low-cost solutions like TaxACT guide you through the new credits, deductions and tax laws. They also do the math, help find missing information and identify potential errors. TaxACT Free Federal Edition allows everyone to prepare and e-file for free — regardless of income, age, state of residence and military status. TaxACT also includes a maximum-refund guarantee and all e-fileable forms for simple and complex returns.
  4. Consider itemizing. The standard deduction for 2009 is $5,700 for individual or married filing separately returns, $11,400 for joint returns or qualifying widow(er) returns and $8,350 for head-of-household returns. If your eligible deductions exceed the standard deduction amount, you’re likely better off itemizing. Software like TaxACT will identify your best option after you enter your deductions.
  5. File and pay as much as possible by April 15. Even if you can’t pay your entire tax bill by the deadline, file early and schedule payment any time before April 15 (June 15 for taxpayers who qualify as “out of the country”) to avoid penalties and interest. If you need a six-month extension (four months if “out of the country”), Form 4868 is due by April 15 and will extend your filing deadline to October 15, 2010. Remember, an extension to file is not an extension to pay.

This is not the year to procrastinate, especially if you’re getting a refund. You could have your refund in as few as eight days by e-filing and selecting direct deposit. The exception is taxpayers claiming the first-time homebuyer credit. The IRS requires that a copy of your settlement statement be mailed with your return (to prevent fraud), and the IRS likely won’t start issuing those refunds until the end of March.
Provided by: NewsUSA

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