3 tax tips to save time and money

Sort your taxes out well and you may have a stronger return!

It's tax season, and the deadline is coming up fast!. It's O.K.  if you've been putting off your taxes for a while, as long as you do what it takes to finally get them done. Why not follow some of these tips instead? That way, you'll have a few tricks up your sleeve to make sure you handle your finances properly.

There are all sorts of variations that might apply, of course, but here are a few general best practices that can make all the difference when you're trying to work ahead before the big final cut-off.

Tip 1: Take security seriously
Sensitive information flies back and forth on the web all the time so much, it's hard to stop and think about taking the right steps to protect it. There's no big secret why tax records are important to keep safe, though: it's all of your information in one place, so obviously this is something you should pay attention to.

The IRS mentioned this in an official post on its website, and referred to good tips for tax return safety and to prevent identity theft. One of the biggest of these is simply to be careful who you hand out your data to.

"Be careful who you hand out your data to."

Not every business requires sensitive information like your Social Security Number, and an urgent call from someone claiming to be the IRS could be a scam, so be alert. It's also a good idea to simply check your tax records regularly to be sure there's no suspicious activity.

Tip 2: Know your exclusions
Military personnel, like people in many professions, have some particular exceptions to remember when it comes to the final tax filing. Military.com listed some of these exceptions, which could stem from either your lifestyle returning from duty or the costs related to military life itself.

For example, you may be able to claim some exclusions for your uniform, but only if you're unable to wear it when off duty. Regardless, you should go over your expenses, dues and other related costs with a fine-tooth comb to be absolutely sure you aren't missing anything.

That's not just true for military-related sections, either. Look closely at the different parts of your tax return and consider each one. There might be a category you've overlooked that can actually net you some real money! That's worth the time and effort to be vigilant about it, don't you think?

Tip 3: Recognize your side gigs
These days, it's so easy to take on small bits of freelance work that you might not even realize you've done it. CNBC pointed out the impact of the "sharing economy" on taxes, which is another reason to keep accurate records.

"It's really useful to leave no stone unturned when it comes to this stuff."

You can deduct certain expenses, such as mileage, depending on what you've been doing. You could be paying more than you need to because you've overlooked an important bit of work you did over the course of the year.

It's really useful to leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparing your taxes, because your overall refund could be bigger, and you'll also have a more accurate picture of your finances for your records.

The longer you wait to do your taxes, the more intimidating they may seem, but that's still no reason to avoid them. Hopefully these general pieces of advice will help encourage you to get your papers in order. Just think of the reward that could be waiting if you do so, and you'll be just fine.