Tax Tips For All Life Stages

I was compensated by Master Lock for this content, however all opinions are my own.

It’s hard to believe that April 15th is just six weeks away.  When my husband and I started working on our taxes this year, we were commenting on how so many things have changed for us from when we got married and filed our first tax return jointly.  From having a child, moving to another country, moving to another state, being self-employed and selling investments; filing our tax returns has never been a one-size-fits-all method.

Over the years we have accumulated some tips, and as part of the Master Lock Live Secure Safety Squad and our March theme of “Tax Tips For All Life Stages,” I’d like to share a few of them with you.  I hope you can use them to make tax time a little easier.

1. Make Your Appointment Early – If you plan on using an accountant to file your taxes, call them the first week of January to make an appointment.  As you can imagine an accountants’ calendar fills up fast.  Knowing that you have an appointment already scheduled takes away the stress of trying to find the time at the last minute to get it done.

2. Save All Your Receipts – Yes, all of them.  You may be entitled to tax credits that you didn’t know about but you’ll need receipts to substantiate them.  New doors, windows or other energy efficient changes you made in your home might give you a credit.  While you may not have purchased an item for that reason, it’s a nice little bonus if you have your receipts to claim them.

3. Track and Value Your DonationsItsDeductible is a free online site that helps you maximize your charitable donation tax deductions. It will help you accurately value your donated items so you no longer have to ‘guesstimate’ how much that printer or recliner that you donated was worth.  It is offered by TurboTax but you don’t need to use their software or services to use the website, you just have to sign up for an account (which doesn’t cost you anything).  They also have an app for Apple devices if you prefer to track that way.

4. Do Your Taxes Different Ways Before You File – If you’re doing your own taxes with a software program, play around with it filing different ways to see what benefits you the most.  Perhaps you have adult children who are attending college.  It may be more beneficial to you to continue claiming them as a dependent and have them owe on their taxes then for them to get a refund.  Sometimes there are different ways to claim, like taking a standard deduction versus itemizing or filing separately or jointly if you are married. Those and other deductions and credits can have an impact of how much you owe or get back so it’s worth spending the time to plug in the numbers in different ways.

5. Store Your Returns and Other Important Tax Documents in a Safe Place – In the event that you would have to provide more information for your tax return, you want to make sure that you are able to find the documentation quickly.  By keeping all the information together and storing it in a safe place you can ensure that you’ll have it if you need it.  A fire proof safe in your home or business, or uploading them digitally to a secure site like are both ways you can do that.

Master Lock wants to offer one of my readers a “Tax Relief” Prize Package which includes a Sentry Safe SFW205GQC Digital Fire Safe (value of $400) and a $50 Visa Gift Card.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE : This giveaway is open only to residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. No PO Boxes.DURATION : Beginning 6:00:00 AM (CST) on 3/02/15 and ending 6:00:00 AM (CST) ON 3/31/15. PRIZES : (1) Grand Prize consisting of Sentry Safe Digital Fire Safe and a $50 Visa Gift Card.  By entering the giveaway you agree to the rules here and agree to have your name or likeness announced as a winner.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.