By Ken Clark

For all the complexity of our income tax system, the process of determining what you owe is fairly straightforward. It's just not something that most people deal with more than once per year, so it can feel quite confusing and intimidating.

The key, as mentioned many times throughout this tutorial, is to stay ahead of the curve.
  • By starting to think about minimizing your tax burden each fall, you'll be able to take the steps you need before windows of opportunity close.
  • By beginning to think about the actual filing process in January or February, you'll ensure there's plenty of time to get your documentation lined up and your taxes prepared. (Keep reading about this in Money Saving Year End Tax Tips.)
  • By being head's up about potential balances you're going to owe, you'll even allow yourself a few extra months to accumulate the money and stay in good graces with the IRS and your state's revenue department - and hopefully avoid an audit. (Keep reading about this in Avoiding An Audit and Surviving the IRS Audit.)
  • By being prepared and recognizing your limits, you'll have time to seek out professional help.
An experienced tax preparer or a good piece of preparation software, put to use well ahead of April 15, will ensure that you don't spend May, June and July living in fear of a penalty notice from the IRS.





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