Tax time is intimidating for everyone, but especially for single mothers. Single mothers are so busy with the kids, the house, and one or more jobs, it’s easy for you to lose receipts or keep incomplete or nonexistent records. To avoid putting hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars at risk, follow these suggestions.
Job one is to get your tax documents in order. Watch for your W-2 form and anything else that says “IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION ENCLOSED” on the envelope. Keep 1099s together with your mortgage 1098 forms, student loan summaries, reports on tuition, and info on investments. If you notice anything is missing talk to your boss or payroll department at work to get a replacement.
Then you have to start sorting the receipts into categories. One of the most important categories is anything connected with your children: child care provider info, receipts for child care, alimony receipts, child support receipts, and Social Security dependent information. You need all of this because there are many deductions for child care available, and missing documents could jeopardize them.
Don’t neglect deductible personal expenses – they too need documentation. Any charitable contributions need to be supported by a receipt or document. So must deductions for alimony paid; any wages you paid out to employees, full time or part time; contributions to your 401K or other pension plan; and business related expenses.
Many people, not just single mothers, don’t realize that any expenses related to filing your taxes are also deductible. If you hire a tax professional, his or her fee can be deducted. If you buy a program like TurboTax – they’re very good – you can deduct the price of the program.
Expenses for medical and dental may or may not be deductible. It tends to depend on your income. You may need some professional advice on that. Either way, make sure you have all receipts and letters pertaining to those expenses.
Do consider hiring a professional tax consultant. He or she can make sure you file properly, take every possible deduction, file on time, and either maximize your refund or minimize what’s due. A good tax man (or woman) is worth every penny!
Before you close the books on 2011, be sure to start 2012 right. Keep ALL your receipts, credit card statements, and bank statements in one place – a drawer, or manila envelope. Don’t bother sorting anything now, just keep everything together. You’ll be glad you did.