Time to finalize taxes for 2012 and begin planning for 2013

Apr 2013

Well, you have five days until tax day, 4/15/13, when we can once again breathe a sigh of relief. At this point you fall into one of two camps:

1) You’ve filed your return electronically (highly recommended) and have already received your refund or you owe and will send your payment in on Monday, 4/15/13; or
2) You will be filing an extension (form 4868) to file your return by 10/15/13. Either way you’re done or have some time now to concentrate on other things.

If you haven’t filed your return yet or will be filing an extension, don’t forget that you can still contribute to the following accounts (if applicable to you) by 4/15/13 to trim you tax bill:

• Traditional IRA (up to $5,000 if under age 50 or up to $6,000 if 50 or older).
• SEP IRA (contributions for 2012 can actually be made until October 15th if you filed an extension. If you are an employee you can contribute up to 25% of your salary up to $50,000 for 2012; if you are self-employed you can contribute 20% of your net self-employment income after your self-employment tax deduction up to a maximum contribution of $50,000)
• Health Savings Account – if you are insured through a high-deductible health plan, total contributions are $3,100 for individuals and $6,250 per family.

I am fortunate and usually can file my taxes by April 15th and am done for another year. I look at this date as the official start of spring and the time to get some things accomplished before summer (both tax related and non-tax related).

If you’ve filed your taxes and found that you owed a bit too much, make sure your W-4’s are updated at work, or better yet, increase your contributions to your workplace retirement plan, if that option is available to you; better to pay yourself than the government.

On the other end, if you are getting a large refund, you can also adjust your W-4 so less federal withholding is deducted. With the large refund, many of us will take a family vacation, which is always a good thing to recharge from the stress of life. However, you could also consider spending that extra money in a financially prudent manner, such as:

• Paying on a high interest credit card balance
• Contributing to your IRA or Roth IRA
• Depositing some cash to your emergency fund (if it is low)
• If you have kids, contribute to an existing 529 savings plan for college or start one (in Michigan, if you open one through the state www.misaves.org, you get a deduction on your state tax return for the contribution (up to $5,000 for a single return and $10,000 for a joint return)

April 15th also brings the start of warmer weather, so you can now focus on some outdoor chores around the home. If you put Christmas lights up for the holiday season, you may still have them up (like me). So, the plan is by the end of April to get the lights down and put away. I also wash the outside windows (of course with some assistance from my significant other).

For the new tax year, I also start to go through my household items and clothing and make a trip to donate these items. Doing this task initiates some “spring cleaning” in the closets and storage areas. I also look again before the end of the year and possibly make two trips. While, I actually take my items to the charity on the weekend (as it is not far from my house), you can also have these items picked up.

Whatever, your after-tax season to-do list is, you should definitely start one so you can get things done before our wonderful Michigan summer hits!


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