3 Tips for Filing Taxes in 2014

Make filing taxes in 2014 less taxing.

Feb 3, 2014 at 2:05PM

Preparing and filing taxes ranks up there with getting a root canal for most people. But filing taxes doesn't have to be taxing. To make the process less painful, here are some important considerations for filing taxes in 2014.

1. Take advantage of time savers
Filing taxes is time consuming. Even if you have a professional preparing your taxes, you likely still spend a lot of time collecting the necessary documents, organizing information, and evaluating your choices. But you can take advantage of a few options that'll decrease your stress level and give you more time to improve your golf game.

One time saver is electronic filing. E-filing can speed up your refund and notify you if the IRS identifies an issue with your tax return. You can use the IRS' Free File service to file electronically. Depending on your income level, this service may let you use free tax prep software like Intuit's (NASDAQ:INTU) Turbo Tax and H&R Block's (NYSE:HRB) products to prepare and file your federal and state tax returns at no cost.

Also, consider the new simplified option for home-office deduction. If you conduct business in a space of your home "regularly and exclusively," you're all too familiar with filing a long and arduous form requiring you to enter a percentage of household expenses for mortgage interest, utilities, repairs, etc. Now you simply deduct $5 for each square foot for home office space. Keep in mind the limit is 300 square feet, for a maximum tax deduction of $1,500.

2. Contribute to a tax-advantaged account to lower your taxable income
Although it's too late to make 2013 contributions to your 401(k), you may have other options. IRAs, SEP IRAs, and health savings accounts all allow contributions for 2013 up until the April 15, 2014 tax-filing deadline. If you don't already have one of these accounts, you can still open one and make a 2013 contribution before the tax-filing deadline.

For example, individuals may contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional IRA for the 2013 tax-filing year ($6,500 for folks age 50-plus). Traditional IRAs are tax-deferred retirement accounts that offer immediate tax savings. But your deduction may be limited if you (or your spouse, if you are married) participate in a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels. My Foolish colleague Chuck Saletta summarized the details in a recent article.

3. Start planning your strategy for 2014
As you prepare your 2013 return, you'll get a good idea of your overall tax picture. Use this information to make changes this year so that 2014's return lowers your tax liability. For instance, maybe you can increase your 401(k) contribution, beef up your portfolio of tax-friendly exchange-traded funds, or invest in tax-free municipal bonds.

Filing taxes in 2014 really can be easy
Taxes don't have to be taxing. Familiarize yourself with tax filing time savers, contribute more to a tax-advantaged account, and begin planning your tax strategy for 2014.

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Nicole Seghetti has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. The Motley Fool recommends Intuit. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intuit. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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