Most wonderful time of the year …

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2000

The key to preparing one’s taxes with a minimum of headaches is gathering the right information at the start, according to professional tax preparers.

&uot;W-2’s, medical information, bank statements … all of that needs to be taken into account,&uot;&160;said Bill Rush Mosby, a certified public accountant with Silas M. Simmons &&160;Co. in Natchez.

Perhaps the most important document to gather is last year’s tax return, which may contain most of the information a person needs if his financial situation has not changed substantially.

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Next, a person needs to gather all his (and his spouse’s, if filing a joint return) W-2 and 1099 forms, expense receipts, bank records, medical receipts, mileage, church and charitable donation forms and other receipts, Mosby said.

If a person has bought property during the year, he needs to have specific information on when he bought it and what the price was, according to information from the National Association of Tax Practitioners.

If the person inherited the property or received it as a gift, he will need to know how much the giver paid for it and when they received it.

Also, one should stay abreast of the latest changes in federal and state tax codes. Some changes in the federal tax code for this year include:

— The basic standard deductions, which went to $4,300 for a single person and $7,200 for a joint return.

— A child tax credit of $500.

— An extra deduction of $850 for each person 65 and over.

And a final note of caution: Mosby said the most frequent mistakes people make on their returns are the simplest ones, so pay attention.

&uot;Some common mistakes include not including the check, not signing the return or not attaching W-2’s or receipts,&uot; Mosby said.

Also, because people in the Miss-Lou often live on one side of the Mississippi River and work or own property on the other side, many have to send tax returns to both the Mississippi Tax Commission and the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation.

&uot;I’ve seen people send the check or the form itself to the wrong state,&uot;&160;Mosby said.

Finally, if a person has had major changes in their family or financial situation in the past year or is confused about how tax code changes will affect him, his best bet may be to consult a CPA or other tax preparer, according to the NATP.