Tax season is here. And if you’re anticipating a refund, it can be an exciting time of the year. To make this process run smoother, here are some tips to take the stress out of tax preparation:

Organize All of Your Tax Paperwork

Having all of your required documents is imperative to file your taxes accurately. In most instances, you’ll receive all your documents from your employer, investment firm, bank, and other institutions by early to mid-February.

However, if you have not received paperwork yet, it’s important to contact them. In some cases, if you moved they might not have your updated address or they could have sent your tax form electronically and it went into your email’s spam folder.

Another aspect of paperwork concerns receipts. If you plan to do itemized deductions, you’ll want to keep all receipts on hand that way you can file copies with your tax return or give them to your tax preparer.

Start on the Filing Process Early

You’ll want to start on your tax returns as soon as you get all of your paperwork. This gives you time to hunt down and gather any missing forms or documents you need.

What’s more, if there are any errors in your tax documents, it gives you plenty of time to have those rectified before filing. And if you do run behind, know you can file for an extension to submit your taxes, but you should use this as a last resort.

Protect Your Tax-Related Information

In recent years, there’s been a rise in thieves stealing people’s Social Security numbers and filing false tax returns. And if you’re a victim of this, it can have a profound effect such as preventing you from obtaining your refund.

To keep your information safe, you should store all tax-related documents including your Social Security card in a safe or a lock box at your local post office. Also, refrain from throwing any of your mail out that contains your Social Security numbers. Some thieves still go dumpster diving to obtain your personal information.

Additionally, if you plan to file online make sure your computer’s software is up to date and you have done a scan with antivirus software. This prevents your information from becoming compromised through viruses, malware or other attacks.

Seek Professional Guidance

Tax laws change almost as often as the seasons, so if you have trouble knowing how the new laws impact you, you could consult a tax professional. When doing so, examine their certifications and how other customers’ experience has been with them. Ask them upfront what they charge for filing fees and if they have any experience working in tax departments such as the IRS, which could help you if you owe.

Know Your Options If You Owe

The IRS states the average tax refund in 2018 dropped by 8 percent compared to last year, meaning more people might owe taxes this season. If this is your first time owing taxes to the IRS, it’s important to take advantage of the options they offer you.

Generally, you’ll receive a notice after you file which states how much you owe and how long you have to pay it. Rest assured, if you cannot pay the full amount before the due date, there are other options you can do such as an installment plan, an offer in compromise or other solutions. You can contact your local IRS office to see which choice is best for your situation.

Tax time is also a good time for a fresh perspective on your insurance policies. Contact an independent Cole Harrison agent today to ensure you’re receiving the financial protection you need.

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