Even with an extension, the deadline to file 2009 tax returns is nearly here. According to the IRS, they expect “as many as 10 million tax returns from taxpayers” who requested a six-month extension to file their returns.
Ed Zurndorfer, registered employee benefit consultant, told Federal News Radio October 15th is important even for taxpayers with additional special extensions, like those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities and people affected by recent natural disasters.
Next Friday is the absolute last day to file electronically file. If you have to file after October 15th, you’ll have to file using paper forms.
As for what should people be thinking about now for 2010, Zurndorfer said there are three major areas to focus on between now and December 31st.
Contribute the maximum possible to the thrift savings plan. “It reduces your gross salary which in turn means you’re saving on taxes,” said Zurndorfer.
Make energy improvements to your home. Put on a new storm door, storm windows, a new furnace, do some insulation in your attic, he suggested. “All these types of energy improvements to your house, in addition to saving you money energy-wise, will result in instant tax savings.” Any improvements though must be completed no later than December 31st.
Consider cutting your losses from this year. If you have some type capital asset – stock, bond, mutual fund – which has gone down in value, “you may want to think about selling it before December 31st and in so doing, you will most likely will generate a loss and that loss can be applied against any other capital gains you may have had.” If you do not have any capital gain, said Zurndorfer, “then up to $3,000 of capital losses can be applied against other income such as your salary, such as interest income, so you can save on taxes.” But Zurndorfer stresses he would not recommend selling something for the sake of generating losses to save on taxes.
Overall, Zurndorfer said to start getting ready now. Get the paperwork organized. Don’t wait. Either your tax preparer will thank you, or you’ll thank yourself later.