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Last Minute Tax Tips and Information

By Erik Folgate

I just finished my taxes, and we will be receiving a nice refund due to two tax credits. Have you completed your taxes yet? If not, you need to get on it! This is really late for me. I usually have them finished by the end of February, but I was a procrastinator this year. Going through my taxes gave me a ton of information to pass along to you all that could be helpful for you if you have not filed yet. Here are some tips and information for all of your last-minute tax filers.

The Tax Software I Used

I used Tax Act Online to prepare and e-file my taxes. If you have never e-filed your taxes, you need to step into the 21st century. It is the best, quickest, and most accurate way to file. I paid the extra $10 to use the premium version of Tax Act’s web program, and it is worth it. The program gives you a wealth of tax information categorized by life events that you may have experienced throughout the year such as marriage, having a baby, moving due to a job change, and going back to college.

Why We Received A Refund

Actually, our tax liability and tax withheld were almost identical. We would have owed nothing and received nothing, but we qualified for two tax credits this year. The first one was the higher education credit that we have received for the past two years. My wife was in graduate school, and the Life Time Learning Credit gives us a 20% credit for every dollar we spent on tuition in 2008. If you went back to college or took any courses for licensing or certification, make sure you claim this credit! We also received a $600 tax credit from the 2008 Economic Stimulus Rebates, because we only received $600 back in April, and we were supposed to receive $1,200. If you felt like you were short changed last spring when all of the stimulus payments were getting sent out, go to the IRS website to verify how much you received. The software will determine if you are still owed money from the tax credit.

Other Credits and Deductions to Look For:

  1. Moving Expenses Tax Deduction. If you moved to another city for a job change, you could qualify for a tax deduction for your moving expenses.
  2. Retirement savings contributions
  3. Real estate property tax deduction. I did not know this, but this year they are allowing you to claim your real estate property taxes as a separate deduction from itemization. In other words, if you take the standard tax deduction, you can claim your property taxes as a completely separate deduction.
  4. Student Loan Interest

How I Will Receive My Refund

I elected to receive my refund by direct deposit into my checking account. Tax Act offers the ability to spread out the refund into up to three different accounts. In retrospect, I should have put some of the money straight into our short-term savings account, but hopefully I will be disciplined enough to deposit into our ING savings account once it gets deposited into our checking account. PLEASE do not go for these rip-off refund loans or debit cards. Wait the 10 to 14 days that it takes to get the money and do direct deposit so the check doesn’t get lost in the mail. Refund loans are the equivalent to check-cashing loans, yet normal people who would never think of getting a payday loan will end up getting duped into a refund loan by a savvy salesman at H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt. Don’t do this, the APR on these loans is ridiculous.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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