Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Tax Year Checklist

By Mark Toney

Believe it or not, the 2010 tax season is just around the corner. The IRS starts accepting live e-file returns for the 2009 tax year starting January 15, 2010. Once the New Year begins, the April 15, 2010 tax deadline will be here before you know it. Use the following checklist to relieve the stress of preparation:

Act promptly. Penalties for late filing can be severe.

Keep neat and orderly records. This will make tax preparation easier, and you’ll be in a better position later if the IRS requests an audit.

Get good advice from a tax professional. A recommendation from a trusted friend or business acquaintance will help, but always check out the professional’s credentials. If the tax professional is an Enrolled Agent (EA), Certified Public Account (CPA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) and/or Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP), then they have not only demonstrated their technical expertise in the field of taxation but are required to keep up with the never-ending changes in the tax code through stringent annual continuing education requirements in order to maintain their credentials.

Be honest. You might be tempted to cheat. But don’t. Tax officials have clever ways of uncovering false claims. Honesty is still the best policy.

Fully understand the return. You’re ultimately responsible for your tax return even if the paid preparer submits inaccurate information. So ask questions. Be proactive instead of reactive. And make sure that your paid preparer acts in harmony with your wishes.

© 2009 by Mark Toney. All rights reserved.

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