Filing your taxes: what do you need to know? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Filing your taxes: what do you need to know?

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The April 15th deadline is still three months away, but some people are already thinking about filing their taxes as they start to get their forms in the mail.

Local certified financial planner Derrick Hodges said even if you're waiting for your W-2 or 1099 from your employer, you don't have to wait to prepare to file your taxes.

"Organization is the key thing," said Hodges.

He suggested looking at your tax return from last year to see what you need. What forms did you use then, and what's different this year?

"I think just looking at your last year's tax return is a great way to start because for most people it's going to be similar in most ways, so if you start there and gather up all the documents for this year's tax return based on that, you're already probably halfway home, then it's just identifying the additional documents you might need," said Hodges.

You should see your W-2 and 1099 by the end of January. Other forms, like investment statement tax reporting documents, should hit your mailbox by the middle of February.

Some folks in the Heartland said they're ready to roll, others say they haven't thought about it yet.

"I'm ready to file my taxes, I had to wait for two W-2s, and I just got my second in the mail," said Amy McAllister. "I'm wanting a new car, so that's going to be my down payment, so that's why I'm ready to go."

Some people say they prefer to fill out the forms themselves; others rather give that responsibility to someone else.

"I choose online," said McAllister. "It's just fast, quick, and cheap."

"We have somebody else, our accountant takes care of it for us," said Fred Meystedt. "It's too complicated, we've got too many forms to fill out, we're on social security, there's just no way a normal person without an accounting degree can fill it out."

"We usually wait, till we get all the paperwork in, and we take to have them to have them done for us," said Donna Fowler. "We don't like to mess with it, it's just easier for someone else to do it."

"I think it's confusing because so many of the rules change year to year, and this most recent last few months, the tax code kind of finally got settled, so I think that's what's daunting about it, it's just changing all the time," said Hodges.

People said they prefer to use applications on their phone or iPad. Hodges said those can be great for some people, but if you have a complicated tax file, he said they may not be best.

"There's a lot of people who like to do their own financial stuff, so they invest their money and do all that work, and for them these tax preparation tools can be really great," said Hodges. "But for many people that don't like doing their tax preparation work, they don't like doing any of their financial work, and its complicated, and the terms are kind of daunting, so for some people, I don't care how good that software is, it's probably not something they're going to want to tackle."

Hodges said don't forget deductions like job related expenses, such as if you pay for a uniform. Charitable donations and some medical expenses might also qualify.

He said it's important for people to know you still have time to contribute to your IRA or health savings

"You still have some ability to control your tax outcome with those two tools, so right now is a great time to be budgeting if you think you want to make an IRA contribution," said Hodges.

And, if you got married, had kids, or changed jobs in 2012, it's important to remember you will file differently.

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