Tips for Filing Taxes

It’s tax season, and we all can use some tips to make filing easier and that result in more money in our pockets. 

IRS Offers Free Tax Filing

New in 2024, eligible taxpayers can take advantage of a free online federal tax filing program provided by the IRS that uses guided tax preparation software. Taxpayers who have an annual gross income of $79,000 or less qualify for a free tax return.

Taxpayers whose annual gross income is greater than $79,000 can still use the Free File Fillable Forms program but also should know how to prepare their tax returns. This option is a public-private partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation companies providing free online tax preparation and filing. These are electronic federal tax forms, equivalent to a paper 1040 form. Both program options are safe and secure.

These tax providers are participating in IRS Free File in 2024:

  • 1040Now
  • Drake (
  • Online Taxes
  • TaxAct
  • TaxHawk (FreeTaxUSA)
  • TaxSlayer

Deductions and Credits

Deductions are vital in reducing taxable income. While most taxpayers claim the standard deductions, which change yearly with inflation, some choose to itemize for a more significant reduction. Thorough documentation is essential when itemizing, and your tax consultant can advise which suits your circumstances. 

Consider strategies other than the straightforward methods when making the most of your deductions. Now is the time to rethink your filing status. Have you maximized your IRA and HSA contributions? 

For families with qualified dependents under 17, you may be eligible for a partial refund when filing in 2024 with the child tax credit. Use this reference list when determining your eligibility for other tax credits:

  • Out-of-pocket charitable donations
  • Last year’s state tax you paid
  • Self-employment social security tax
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • State sales tax deduction
  • Earned income tax deduction
  • Refinancing mortgage points deduction
  • American Opportunity credit
  • Student loan interest paid deduction
  • Moving expenses for your first job deductions

Find more tips for homeowners.

Five Tips For First Time Buyers

Say goodbye to throwing away rent money every month and hello to owning your own home. It’s an exciting time in your life and following a few simple tips can make it a rewarding experience.

1. Know what you can afford.

Gather one year’s worth of your household expenses. Include credit card payments, loans, auto insurance, groceries, utilities and entertainment expenses for each month. All money that goes out each month needs to be tracked, even that $4 coffee once a week. Figure your monthly take home pay, minus the list of expenses, and that gives you a ballpark figure of what you can afford to spend. But remember, this includes your monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance. Be sure to leave a cushion for emergencies.

2. Get pre-approved.

This step includes having lenders scrutinize your credit history and score, so make sure your credit history is accurate before this step. Read our blog, How To Prepare For Pre-qualification, for help in getting ready for this step. (include hyperlink to Dec 11 blog article,

3. Make a want vs. need list.

Set realistic priorities and make clear distinction between what you really need versus what you want. Your need list includes things you cannot live without and will be different for each person. Commute time and number of bedrooms usually fall into the need category. Stainless appliances could be added in the future, so they fall into the want category.

4. Scope out the hood.

Gather information about taxes, schools and crime rates from the neighborhoods you are considering. Take a drive through the neighborhood at night and ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable walking alone at night in this neighborhood?” If you see neighbors outside during one of your drive bys, stop and ask about the area. Find out if there is a dog that barks all day, a loud motorcycle that starts at 5 am or neighbors who like to have loud parties well into the night.

5. Find a trustworthy home inspector.

It’s wise to always have a home inspection before you buy. There could be dangers hidden behind walls, even in new construction. It’s always better to know about potentially costly repairs before you buy a property. You can also use that the home inspector finds as leverage when submitting an offer. Sellers are often willing to fix issues before you move in as part of the sales agreement.

What’s hiding behind those walls?


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