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Southern Tier

What to take into account before filing your taxes

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: What to take into account before filing your taxes
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Tax Day is fast approaching. Our Sarah Blazonis shows us what you should keep in mind before signing your name on your 2012 returns.

NATIONWIDE-- Crunching numbers is second nature to CPA Mark Peters, but he knows not everyone is excited to end up in his office -- even if their visit will result in a tax refund check.

"They meet the accountant, and the joke is, it's like going to the dentist, so they want to get it over as quick as possible," said Peters, senior partner at Peters & Associates Certified Public Accountants in Syracuse.

Putting thought into the process can help you out in the long run, though. That begins with choosing your preparer.

"You want to make sure they're knowledgeable and they're asking you questions and that they stand behind their tax return," said Peters.

The IRS also has some suggestions: Ask for a Preparer Tax Identification Number and if they belong to a professional organization. Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out about any questionable history. And avoid those who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.

When it's time for your appointment, make sure you come prepared.

"If they want to deduct their mortgage, we need a 1098, records of their contributions, records of the state taxes that they've paid," said Patrick Ryan, an instructor and tax preparer with H&R Block.

But no matter who prepares your taxes, you're legally responsible for the information contained in those documents once you sign them. That's why the pros recommend even if you're not a tax professional that you know your taxes.

"Why are you getting a refund? Why do you owe money? What tax bracket are you in? And were there any ways you could've saved money?" said Peters of some questions people should ask their preparers.

Another reason to be extra vigilant this year is the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It will require all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014.

"Individuals on their 2012 return may qualify for federal subsidies to help pay for that health insurance. So it's very important that they have all the correct information," said Ryan.

Because accounting for the future now can save you headaches down the road.

The deadline to file returns this year is April 15.

For more tax tips, visit: ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP