JERSEY CITY, NJ--(Marketwired - Dec 8, 2015) -  The countdown to 2016 is on, and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® is sharing tax tips to ensure clients make smart financial moves before the year ends. Now is the time to consider organizing financial records and implementing these simple tax strategies.

"December is the optimal time to start planning for next year, and we want to help our clients get a head start," said Jackson Hewitt CEO David Prokupek. "By prioritizing specific activities before the year ends, we help ensure clients can claim their maximum refund in the upcoming tax season."

Actions to Take This Month to Increase Your 2015 Tax Refund
1. Embrace the Spirit of Giving.
Instead of dropping change in the bucket this holiday, consider making a cash or property donation to a qualified charitable organization before Dec. 31. For those filing an itemized tax return, charitable contributions can be deducted using Form 1040, Schedule A. Keep in mind, donations above $250 require written acknowledgement from the organization, and donations of $500 or more require you to complete Form 8283.

2. Fund Your Future. If you have a 401(k) or Traditional IRA set up for retirement, make contributions to those accounts now to reduce your taxable income for 2015. You may contribute up to $18,000 to your 401(K) and $5,500 to your Traditional IRA. And these amounts increase if you're over age 50. If you don't have one set up, consider doing so -- an IRA is a gift that keeps on giving.

3. Enroll in Health Insurance. It is important to sign up in December to ensure you have coverage on Jan. 1, 2016 and avoid the penalty for not having health insurance in 2016, which will increase to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater.

  1. Enroll through the Marketplace: Individuals can enroll in health insurance through the marketplace, and learn if they qualify for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit, which pays all or part of your premium directly to the insurance company each month. Nearly 87% of marketplace customers qualified for money-saving tax credits in 2015. 
  2. Apply for Exemptions: If you were uninsured in 2015, wait to file your 2015 tax return until you apply for exemptions. Some, such as the various hardship exemptions, are only available through the health insurance marketplace and are not part of your standard tax return. Apply to the marketplace for approval now, before you file your taxes.
  3. Report Changes: If you get your health insurance from a state marketplace, report any major changes in income, marital status or children to your state marketplace. This will ensure your pre-paid premium can be appropriately adjusted.

4. Pay Your Bills Early. Make an advanced payment on your mortgage or student loans in December to claim the highest possible interest deduction.

  1. Business Expenses: If you work from home or own your own business, pay employee bonuses and make bulk purchases now to increase your business-related deductions on this year's tax return.
  2. Tuition: If you, a spouse or dependent are in school, make your January tuition payment in December so you can increase your Education Credit.
  3. Medical Payments: If you are making installment payments on large medical expenses, accelerate as much of the 2016 payments as you can afford in 2015. This will help increase your medical expenses and therefore, your deduction.

5. Watch Out For Last Minute Tax Changes. There are a number of tax breaks, known as "The Extenders" that are still pending renewal in Congress. Visit a Jackson Hewitt tax professional to learn about these changes and if you qualify for any of these deductions.

Starting on Monday, Jan. 4, customers can either make an appointment with a Jackson Hewitt tax professional or simply walk into one of the company's 6,300 locations. If you are interested in learning more, visit or call 1 (800) 234-1040.

About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. is an innovator in the tax industry, with a mission of offering its hard-working clients access to simple, low-cost solutions to manage their taxes and tax refunds. With more than 25,000 professional tax preparers, Jackson Hewitt is devoted to helping clients get ahead with Maximum Refund and 100% Accuracy Guarantees. Jackson Hewitt is the fastest-growing full-service tax preparation company with approximately 6,300 franchised and company-owned locations, including 3,000 Walmart locations, and online and mobile tax solutions. For more information about products, services, and offers, or to locate your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt office, visit or call 1 (800) 234-1040.

Contact Information:

Elizabeth Sedlock

(636) 699-9554