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Filing your taxes doesn’t have to be a burden

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By Lorrie Kinkade

By LORRIE KINKADE

The Trimble Banner

Whether you chose to file your own taxes or hand the task over to a professional, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Earlier income tax preparation will likely translate into faster refunds and may also mean larger refunds for families and individuals, said Brenda Cornelius, owner of Brenda’s Tax Service in Madison, Ind.

“The sooner the better to get started on your taxes. Everything is fresh in your mind and you are less likely to forget things that could increase the amount of your return or decrease the amount you owe,” she said. “If you didn’t keep a file of tax information during the year, January is the time to start gathering your receipts and other documents.”

Gaye Christman of Willis Tax Service in Milton said the most common mistake she has seen in her 25 years professional experience is people not realizing what deductions they have.

“People can really cheat themselves by not looking at everything that happened in their lives throughout the year. With any client, whether it’s a business or individual, I talk to them to find out more about their life. That’s how to find the largest deductions,” she said. “Keeping good records throughout the year is best, but starting now to get papers and receipts together can make up for that.”

Medical expenses, including travel for doctor’s visits, and property loss due to natural disasters are some of the most overlooked deductions, said Carrollton’s Dailey Tax Service owner, Margaret Dailey.

“For people who had storm damage earlier this year that wasn’t covered by insurance, they can claim those losses. And for some people, those casualty losses may be very large,” she said.

Dailey said it is also important for people to be aware of changes in tax laws.

“If you didn’t itemize in the past, that doesn’t mean you won’t want to this year. When there are changes in allowable deductions, you need to review all your options,” she said.

For additional tips on how to get started on the hunt for the greatest tax return, the Internal Revenue Service has free assistance available to all taxpayers.

Visit www.IRS.gov and check out Publication 17, which offers suggestions to insure you are taking all the credits and deductions allowable by law.