Save time and money: Plan now for next year’s tax return

You can save time and money by being organized and planning now — you might even reduce your stress. Here are some things you can do now to make April 15 easier.

Adjust your withholding – Each year, millions of workers have far more taxes withheld from their pay than what is required. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, review your withholding and adjust it to make the taxes withheld from your pay closer to the taxes you’ll owe for this year. This is especially true if you normally get a large refund and would like more money in your paycheck.

If you owed tax when you filed, you may need to increase the federal income tax withheld from your wages. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov to calculate the proper withholding.

Store your return in a safe place – Put your 2012 tax return and supporting documents somewhere safe, so you’ll know where to find it in the future. You may need a copy of your return when applying for a home loan or financial aid. It can also be a helpful guide for completing next year’s return.

Organize your records – Establish one location where everyone in your household can put tax-related records during the year. This will avoid a scramble for misplaced mileage logs or charity receipts during tax time.

Consider itemizing deductions – If you usually claim a standard deduction, you may be able to reduce your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. If your itemized deductions typically fall just below your standard deduction, you can bundle your deductions. For example, an early or extra mortgage payment or property tax payment or a planned donation to charity could mean tax savings for you. Check the instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions, for the list of items you can deduct.

Start planning an approach now that will pay off at tax time next year. For more information, read IRS Tax Tip 2013-62 or check out IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.