Everything Bremerton: Spring time is tax time

Tax day, April 15, is fast approaching.  This year the deadline has actually been officially extended by the IRS to Monday April 18. Have you filed your tax return yet?

For fifteen tax seasons, I worked for a nationally recognized major tax preparer in a support staff position. Fresh out of high school and attending college, I found that working a seasonal job with extra hours for four months of the year was a wonderful way for me to get my foot in the door of the corporate office world. I kept coming back every year. Often times I worked hours at the tax office while also holding down a part-time or full-time job elsewhere. My last tax season was in 2002, right after the birth of my son.

What I learned during those 15 years continues to serve me to this day. I took the discounted tax preparation classes that were offered by the company to employees. It was with this company that I ventured my first steps into the world of recordkeeping and bookkeeping. The foundation of organization, multi-tasking and problem solving was built and in my current position. I still apply frequently many of the lessons learned from my time in the trenches.

The biggest lesson of all? Manage your money and your tax refund so that it works in the best interest for you. It is your money. A large refund is not an indication that you are doing well financially or that your money is working effectively. We are currently in an economic time where every dollar in our budget counts. Most of us have had to cut back in small ways or in some cases big ways. We are starting to pay more attention to where our money is going for basics such as groceries, bills and gas.

If you have not been paying close attention to where your money is going for taxes, then you need to start doing so right now.

Do some research via the IRS website or through available IRS publications. Get some advice from a professional. Review the W-4 form you have on file with your employer and make adjustments if needed. Improve your overall household recordkeeping practices so you aren’t missing opportunities for deductions or credits.

During my years in the tax office, I met many people trying to get help, at the last minute, for the sticky tax situations in which they had cornered themselves. Situations that many times could have been avoided if questions had been asked or professional help had been sought at the beginning of a financially changing tax situation instead of at the end of it.

Don’t put off reviewing your tax situation, making corrections or asking questions early. Your money is too important.

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