(BPT) - As tax season pushes on, millions of Americans have yet to file their taxes. While reasons for waiting to do so range from a fear of owing money, to not having the proper paperwork, take solace in the fact that if you still haven’t filed your taxes, you’re not alone.
In fact, previous research from H&R Block shows that 57 percent of Americans say they’ve lost sleep or sacrificed free time on the weekends just so they could deal with tax preparation.
Regardless of individual reasons for waiting to file, there are ways to ensure the process goes smoothly, whether you choose to go it alone, or seek out expert help. And because 2019 represents the first tax season under reform, it pays to be especially diligent this year.
So, what are the options for the busy Americans who want help with their taxes, but don’t have the time or flexibility to get into a tax office?
The nation’s tax professionals often begin with a seemingly simple piece of advice, which can pay dividends over time: Get organized now.
Organizing the necessary information is going to make tax time so much smoother, no matter how you choose to undertake it. Get all your important tax documents together in one place as they come in. Missing tax documents can lead to missing out on tax benefits you’re entitled to claim. If you need a little extra help with documents, hop online. The internet is full of free resources, like the tax prep checklist on hrblock.com.
For those who don’t want to see the inside of a tax office, but want the comfort of expert help, technology again stands as a strong option.
Karen Orosco is a senior vice president at H&R Block, and she said technology can be one of the greatest helps for time-crunched Americans this tax season.
“H&R Block Tax Pro Go is designed for clients who want help from a tax expert, but also want the convenience of not having to visit a tax office,” Orosco said. “If you or your tax pro have a question, you can connect and share additional information using our secure online portal, email or even talk on the phone if you prefer. There’s no office visit, no preparing your own return, just upload your documents, sit back and we’ll take care of the rest."
Another concern often raised by time-conscious Americans regards the size of their tax refund, especially under reform. The biggest piece of advice being given by the nation’s tax professionals this year is in reference to the W-4.
If you don’t like what happened with your refund this year, you can take steps to help see it doesn’t happen next year — one way is by updating your withholding with your employer. Tax season presents a great time to make that update, because it requires a lot of the same information that goes on your W-4. It’s also good to make these updates at the start of the year so the changes are stretched out over your paychecks for a longer period.
Orosco also presented another point for seeing a change in one’s refund: Individuals may see refund benefits by contributing to a traditional IRA.
“Individuals may potentially increase their refund or decrease the amount they owe by contributing to a traditional IRA,” Orosco said. “You have up until the April 15 deadline to contribute and reap the potential benefits. H&R Block tax professionals can provide expert guidance for clients when they file their 2018 tax returns.”
The final piece of important advice may seem obvious, or even simple, but bears repeating year over year. Americans need to keep their life in mind, especially as large changes like having a child, purchasing a home or starting a new job can truly alter one’s tax situation.
Life changes typically mean tax changes, so when something significant changes, it may be a good idea to consider getting expert help.
If you want to be matched up with your own tax professional this year, it’s easy, it’ll save you time and it just might make your refund even better. You can go to hrblock.com/taxprogo to get matched with an expert tax pro and see your price.