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Fiscal Cliff Uncertainty: How You Can Prepare

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The fiscal cliff is leaving Americans uncertain about their financial futures. But it also means the period known as "busy season" for accountants -- from February to the tax deadline on April 15 -- is going to be a hectic one.

"We are going to put more of a burden on us because we are going to have to wait closer until the end of the year instead of getting our early filers out the door early in January and February," said Geoffrey Griffith, a certified public accountant with Kelley, Galloway & Company in Ashland. "It's very frustrating because we can't plan for it."

Griffith says it is currently about setting realistic expectations for clients.

"Now we are just trying to get taxpayers prepared for what might happen; this is what you may owe," Griffith said.

He says ahead of the 11:59 p.m. deadline Monday night (Dec. 31), there isn't much you can do to change or ease the burden what you might owe come April 15 -- other than a charitable online donation.

While Washington sorts out what happens with your money as far as taxes go, it could serve as a good reminder now to get your financial house in order for the new year.

"Maybe it's doing a better budget, maybe it's looking at your deductions more looking at your mortgage, looking at your real estate taxes, your deductions, your standard itemized deductions," Griffith said. "Really taking a better look at how that impacts your budget. Because it's basically going to impact your discretionary spending."

He recommends maxing out your tax-free income possibilities -- things like 401ks, as well as the benefits that come along with having children in college.

Griffith also suggests maximizing your government withholdings.

"I would look at increasing your withholdings at your employer," he said. "It's a little easier to lose five or ten dollars a check than try to come up with that larger sum at the end of the year."


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