2017 tax season starts today:Tips to avoid headaches

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Monday is the official start of tax season. If you’re ready to submit your individual tax documents, good for you. For some,though, Monday marks the start of a stressful and sometimes confusing time of the year.

Gerri Sexsion, president & CEO of Jax Federal Credit Union, shares a few tips for keeping your sanity during tax season.

First things first: Take this opportunity to get organized. In addition to gathering all the receipts and forms you need to submit your family’s taxes, use this time to go through any old financial documents you no longer need. Everyone wants to protect their information and avoid being a victim of identity theft, as hundreds of thousands of fraudulent returns are submitted every year.

Second, decide how and where to file. If you have a simple return, you can file for free directly through the IRS; however, if you have a more complex return or you prefer to have the peace-of-mind of a professional tax professional submitting your return, a service may be a better fit. Research the costs and benefits.

Third, look for any deductions that will help lower your tax bill. From mortgage interest, to home improvement loan interest, to student loan interest, don’t forget the deductions, especially since you may need to download them from your service provider’s website.

Finally, make a plan for your tax return or bill. If you’re getting a return, think about how it will best serve your financial needs in the short-term and long-term. Last October, a report from GOBankingRates.com found that 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. Additionally, a report from the federal government showed that 46 percent of adults couldn’t cover an unexpected expense of $400 without borrowing money or selling something.

According to Sexsion, your tax refund could be the beginning of your emergency savings fund or retirement savings. Sexsion encourages tax filers to save their refunds.