We all want taxes to a be a bit easier – fewer numbers, less document chasing, and more wiggle room. Taxpayers have to go by the book Uncle Sam wrote, but below are a few ways you can lift the weight of it off of your shoulders.
Tired of the cram on April 14th of every year? Make a commitment to focus attention on your taxes and general financial situation throughout the year, and you’ll save yourself some stress. From January to December, think of the big picture. Have a plan for your savings and contribute regularly, keep tabs on your financial records (more on that below), consider a paycheck withholding adjustment, and know your previous adjusted gross income. From January to April, keep a hawk eye on receipt of your W2 and check documents off the list, then set aside at least a few hours to e-file. Request an extension if needed. From April to October, prepare to file if you requested an extension. From October to December, plan for deductions and credits; scope out potential ones you haven’t taken advantage of.
Receipt papers crumple, fly away, and fade. Whether you’re expecting to accrue piles of receipts for itemized deductions, or simply need a W2, always scan to your computer and back up on a hard drive. You’ll not only immortalize your records, but allow for easy referencing when the time comes.
Do you ignore those emails from your bank alerting that your bank statement is ready to view? While you stockpile receipts and balance your budget, take a few moments to scan each month’s bank statement for every account you have to make sure you don’t overlook anything that didn’t come with a receipt. Crosscheck, highlight, repeat.
Most people need help when filing their taxes – it may be an individual tax professional, another third party that streamlines the process, or the IRS. Find a trusted source of tax laws and stick to it. Building these relationships will ensure you’re taking your financial situation and/or business where it needs to go – hopefully with a refund.
Frequent, small efforts make all the difference. Take one step at a time and avoid the April rush. Set alerts in your calendar and it’ll be smooth sailing every tax season.
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