MARCH 2016
It's Tax Time!
5 Steps for Doing Your Own Taxes
Doing your own taxes won’t earn you a merit badge and there is no grand celebration once you hit the “send” button on your e-filed return. But preparing your own taxes does build confidence and knowledge that can open the door to better financial decision making throughout the year. 
Step 1: Gather Your Thoughts (and Your Paperwork)
Those who fall in the single-and-simple category have it easy. It’s not until you have property, children, investments and multiple income sources that tax filing gets hairy. Start by taking inventory of any relevant life events from the past year. 
Step 2: Do Your Homework
The more you know, the more empowered you will be to tackle your taxes year after year and find ways to fatten your refund—or adjust your withholding to spread that money evenly throughout the year. Start by studying tax credits and deductions, such as earned income tax credits, education credits and charitable contribution deductions to see what you qualify for.
Then determine which federal tax forms you will need.
Step 3: Explore Tax-Filing Options
Once you gain some understanding of all that goes into filing your own taxes, take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. Tax help abounds, and often for free.  
Read On
6 Money-Smart Uses for Your Tax Refund
If you are expecting a refund this tax season, consider these six tips for using it wisely:
Pay down credit card debt. First, attack the card with the highest interest rate. If you can pay off the card in full, that is even better.
Build up an emergency fund. Tuck some of that tax refund into savings. Even a modest amount — as little as $500 — can help soften the blow of the typical unexpected expense. If you already have an emergency fund, give yourself an extra boost toward reaching that three-to-six-month-living-expenses recommendation. If you have yet to establish a plan, learn how to maximize your savings and save for multiple goals.
Invest in a retirement plan. Enhance your future now by using your tax refund to invest in a tax-deferred retirement plan. If you have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), make a one-time, sizable contribution, or save your refund for a series of smaller investments over several months. If you don’t have a retirement account, learn more about them here.
Read More
Use Tax Time to Teach Your Teen
Check out the latest blog post from the High School Financial Planning Program to discover how to use this time of the year as an opportunity to teach your teen about money management. 
Read On
SAM is a resource of the National Endowment for Financial Education.
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