Tax Tips for Married Couples: Quick, Smart and Spot-On
With the April 17 filing deadline coming up fast (yep, the 17th), here's what wedded spouses should know to ease their pain
Filing your income taxes this year does not have to be as dreadful as going to the dentist, sitting in traffic, or even managing your joint checking account — that is, if you and your beloved spouse incorporate an ounce or two of financial vigilance on a regular basis (throughout the year, that is, and not just in the month before filing).
CPA Steve Baumgartner, a partner at the Seattle-based firm Minar and Northey, has been assisting married couples with their tax preparations since 1978. He knows a thing or two about turning tax prep into something, well — at least — bearable.
With the April 17 filing deadline looming (yes, it’s the 17th this year, as opposed to the usual 15th), here are a few smart and easy tax tips to keep in mind at tax time and throughout the year as well, notes Baumgartner.
1.) Keep records of sales tax purchases — including home improvements and new cars.
2.) Maximize 401(k) contributions and keep records updated during the year, so that tax time is less stressful.
3.) Consider using products like Quicken, a personal money management software. Even so, the personal service and up-to-the-moment training that a certified tax professional brings to the table is infinitely preferable.
4.) Take advantage of education credits and other deductions.
5.) Maintain records of noncash charitable contributions — and keep them in an easy-to-find location.
Baumgartner also warns his clients against the rampant telephone scams that are prevalent these days, especially those referencing the Internal Revenue Service.
“The IRS does not call taxpayers. The agency communicates via the U.S. mail,” he told LifeZette.
“I have also received several calls at home that the government is filing a lawsuit against me for unpaid taxes.”
Still, the worst-case scenario so far, noted Baumagarter, was a phone call one of his clients received at work. Scammers, pretending to be the IRS, told him they were on their way to arrest him if he didn’t pay up immediately.
Criminals often use “spoofing” technology to make the calls appear as if they’re coming from the Washington, D.C., area, the website Nerdwallet made clear — so that they appear more legit.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.