You’re probably focused on soaking up the last of the summer sun more than you are on your taxes. However, you can use the end of summer to get organized and ahead for the upcoming tax season.
Summer isn’t a busy season for tax advisers, so you should tax advantage of the less traffic. By the summer, you’ll have an overview of your tax situation for the upcoming season, while still allowing yourself enough time to reap the greatest benefit from certain strategies.
By preparing early, you can avoid a lot of stress come April 15. So as the lazy days of summer set in, counteract them by tackling five important tax tasks.
- Review Your Withholdings: Consider what happened this year with your tax return. Did you receive a big refund (meaning you paid too much in taxes)? Or did you have a large bill because you underpaid? These could be signs that you may want to review your withholdings and find the sweet spot that’s right for you. If you find you need to adjust your withholdings, simply submit a new Form W-4 to your HR department.
- Consider Tax Benefits Before Improving Your Home: If you’re planning to do a little remodeling over the summer, look for improvements that make your home more energy efficient. In doing so, you could qualify for tax credits on your next return. Solar electric systems and water heaters will get you a Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, as long as you keep receipts and have proof from the manufacturer of the items energy savings.
- Third Quarter Payments: If you work on contract or are self-employed, you may have to pay estimated quarterly tax payments to cover your tax bill. If so, it’s time to pay your third quarter estimated taxes which help avoid penalties and a big bill on April 15th. This payment is due by September 15th.
- Save Receipts for Camp and Charity: If your dependent has spent the summer in a day camp, you may qualify to deduct up to 35% of incurred expenses under the Child and Dependent Care Credit. If you worked for a charity project, like a service trip or child’s school project, you are able to deduct travel costs at 14 cents per mile. Don’t forget donated items can score you a deduction as well, so as you clean out your storage space, save receipts for all of the above.
- Retirement Contributions: The year is halfway over, so you may want to consider upping the amount you automatically contribute to your 401(k). Since our contributions are applied pre-tax, you’ll be able to lower the amount of your income you are taxed on for 2015.