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Tax Tips From The Director of University Tax Compliance

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  1. Be honest. Keep good records. Document your deposits as well as your expenses. If audited, be organized to move the audit along quickly. Rehearse your audit. Only answer the questions that you are asked. Be nice to the auditor. You do have appeal rights.
  2. Make sure you timely pay enough in withholding or estimated tax throughout the year. Make sure you pay all taxes by the IRS due date, even if you extend your time to file.
  3. Pay your medical insurance and out of pocket costs and child care expenses with pretax dollars if such employer plans are available.
  4. Invest in a Roth IRA if you can. It will benefit you when you retire and you are not paying taxes on your retirement income.
  5. Keep your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as low as possible. Higher AGI has side effects on your tax return and elsewhere (financial aid, Affordable Care Act taxes, etc).
  6. Know your marginal tax rate.
    • Taxable income reduction times marginal rate equals tax savings. Nondeductible rent divided by the result of one minus your marginal tax rate equals the equivalent tax-deductible mortgage interest and property tax on your own future home.
    • Tax planning and actions occur during the tax year. You can smooth out income spikes through timing of income and deductions.
  7. Know when to say HELP. Tax law is complicated and there are severe penalties for noncompliance. An error can set your financial plan years back. 

Consider seeking the advice of a tax professional when:

  • You are behind in the payment of your taxes
  • Your return goes beyond your wages and bank interest
  • You buy a home or invest in rental property
  • You accumulate stock options, RSUs and ESPP shares or partnership interests
  • You are contemplating marriage or marital separation or become widowed
  • You are being audited or discover errors on prior returns
  • You are moving from one state to another or work in more than one state
  • You start a small business
  • You need to care for elderly parents or other relatives
  • You are planning future intergenerational transfers (inheritance, college planning)

The items presented here are for general information only and do not constitute tax advice. Stanford does not endorse nor independently confirm the information presented in any other website referred to in this document. The university encourages students to seek qualified tax counsel when appropriate.