Thursday, July 16, 2009

Personal Finance: Now's The Time To Plan Tax Savings

This morning posted a new article stressing the importance of starting to plan for tax season now, and I could not agree more! By planning early you can make a conscious effort throughout the year to reduce your total liability! You can read a segment of the article below, or check out this article I posted on the topic earlier this year: Tax Planning for 2009 - How to Benefit from Recent Tax Law Changes.

High debts and recession anxiety have prompted many consumers to cut their expenses to the bone. But there's one other place they could be saving, and that's taxes.

Mid-year is the best time to start planning a year-end tax strategy. Accountants and other tax preparers aren't as busy as they are in the spring and the winter, so they have more time to meet with you and look over your financial situation. If you use a professional to help you at tax time, consider setting up an appointment this month. You'll get a lot of personal attention.

If you're a do-it-yourself tax planner and filer, it's still a good time to check out your status and lay plans for the remainder of 2009. You'll have five months to make the financial moves that will save you money when you file your income taxes for this year. And it's not just about income taxes: This year there are some sales and property tax moves that can put more cash in your pocket quickly.

Here's a grab bag of summer maneuvers -- from renegotiating your property taxes to grabbing the car tax break -- that you can use now to keep more money for yourself through 2009 and into 2010.

Appeal your property taxes. In the last three years, average U.S. home prices have fallen by about a third, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. But it's unlikely your local or state government has been dropping your home's assessment or property taxes by the same percentages. It may be too late for this year's tax bill, but most states do have relatively easy procedures to follow if you want to appeal your assessment or the amount of your taxes. There's no reason not to do it. Check the website of your county or state treasurer's office to see how to do this.

Get organized early. Take a look at your year-to-date earnings and compare them with last year's. Remember that there is a Making Work Pay tax credit in play that will pay individuals $400 and couples filing jointly $800 for 2009. If you haven't already cut your withholding at work for this, you may be able to trim your withholding for the rest of the year. You may also be able to reduce your estimated tax payments if you typically earn a lot of money in interest income and find yourself earning less than usual this year. Start collecting and keeping all pertinent receipts. For example, you can get a child-care tax credit for the cost of day camp for kids under 13 if you are busy working while the kids are being bussed to the pool and park.

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