Tax season is in full swing. Readers are peppering me with questions, and marketers are forwarding promotional material for their products. This seems like a good time to meld the two opposing forces into a single post!

Tips for preparing your tax return
First up, Roni Deutch, CEO of the nation’s largest tax-resolution law firm, sent me a copy of her new book, The Tax Lady’s Guide to Beating the IRS and Saving Big Bucks on Your Taxes. She also passed along her top 10 tips for preparing your tax return:

  1. Clean, correct, current, and complete. Use good recordkeeping habits and a computer to complete your return and you will have gotten yourself off to a fabulous start.
  2. The right forms in the right order. Using the right forms and putting them in sequential order makes it easier for the IRS to quickly read and review — which is what you want!
  3. Use the correct filing status. The wrong tax category could cost you plenty in credits and deductions.
  4. Claim all of your allowable exemptions. At $3,500 per exemption, that is a pretty penny to kiss away.
  5. Don’t use round numbers. Rounded numbers are a big red flag that the taxpayer is estimating the numbers and may increase your chance for an audit.
  6. Check your math. Make sure to pay special attention to the Earned Income tax credit and Child tax credit — they are most often calculated incorrectly.
  7. Sign your return. Yes, it seems like an obvious point. But the IRS says unsigned tax returns are one of the most common taxpayer miscues.
  8. File and pay on time. You must pay at least 90% of your tax due by April 15 to avoid penalties.
  9. If you’re not ready, file an extension. File IRS Form 4868 and you will get until October 15 to file and avoid a late filing penalty.
  10. Keep a copy of your return For at least 6 years after filing your return, retain a copy just in case.

To read more on this subject, see my previous article on common red-flags that lead to IRS audits. For more tips from Roni Deutch, visit her website.

CCH CompleteTax
Next, the folks at CCH CompleteTax have provided me with four promotional codes to give away to GRS readers. According to the promotional literature the company sent me:

CCH CompleteTax, an online tax preparation and e-filing service for the do-it-yourself taxpayer, continues to set the standard when it comes to making online tax prep and e-filing easy, efficient and affordable. CCH CompleteTax offers comprehensive support to help taxpayers through each step of preparing and e-filing both federal and state income tax returns.

Each of the four promotional codes is good for tax prep for one 2008 federal and one 2008 state tax return, using either the basic or premium version of CCH CompleteTax. E-filing is included, if you want to e-file. That’s a value of $30-$50 per code, depending on which version is used. 

On Wednesday morning (March 4th), I will randomly select four commenters on this post to win the free promo codes for this product. To be considered, please include something like “I’m interested in CCH CompleteTax” or “I could use CompleteTax” in your comment.

H&R Block TaxCut
Finally, H&R Block wrote to offer three GRS readers copies of their TaxCut Premium Federal software. Here’s the promotional copy from the company’s website:

  • Report investments, dividends, retirement income and home sales.
  • Includes videos that help explain specific situations such as home office deductions and the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Supports Schedule A for itemizing and Schedule C for self-employment.
  • Only from H&R Block: One Ask a Tax Advisor session included. An H&R Block tax professional can help answer your tax question via a 1-on-1 phone or e-mail consultation.
  • Only from H&R Block: Worry-free Audit Support offers guidance plus an H&R Block enrolled agent to represent you in the event of an audit.

On Wednesday morning (March 4th), I will randomly select three commenters on this post to win the free boxed copies of this product. To be considered, please include something like “I’m interested in TaxCut” or “I could use TaxCut” in your comment.

Note: It’s fine to say that you’re interested in both giveaways. You can only win one item, even if you’re interested in both. But you can’t win anything if you don’t let me know you’re interested!

Please note that I’m not recommending or endorsing any of these products. Their manufacturers provided samples to give to GRS readers, so I’m passing them along. I’ve never used tax-preparation software. I still have my taxes done the old-fashioned way, by an accountant!

Entries for the giveaway are now closed!

This article is about Hints and Tips, Taxes, Tools