It’s just tax season so stop pulling your hair out! IRS, taxes, audits, new laws every year, deadlines. Any of this can give just about anyone reason to worry, but I’ve noticed that worrying about tax season makes things far worse than actually dealing with it. So, banish any fear and procrastination and read on to see how to keep it simple and get it done using these tax season tips.
Some Tax Season Tips – Basics
You have three options for getting your taxes done:
- For the cheapest way do them yourself if you know what you are doing.
- Use tax software – next cheapest. You can find options by Googling “tax preparation software”. You pay for the software but you will know it reflects current tax laws – which change every single year!!
- Hire a professional – tax preparers and accountants fit here. Which one you need depends on the complexity of your taxes, or just your preference. Trained tax preparers know the tax system well and will gladly explain their credentials. Accountants also know the tax system thoroughly and have other skills due to their education (BS or MS degree).
Did anything change last year?
- Get married? Divorced?
- Buy a house or move to a new state?
- Live/work out of the country?
- Sell investments?
- Inherit investments?
- Become self-employed?
- Change health insurance?
- Have a baby?
- Schedule time to get organized. Put the kids in daycare and dedicate the time, but don’t fit it in around laundry, playdates, basketball games. If you treat this high priority task too lightly you will have that stress I mentioned above.
- Round up anything and everything you might need. Notice I said might need. Even if you can’t decide if you need it, put it in the pile and figure it out later.
- Put everything in one place – such as a file labeled with the year, a big enough box also labeled, a labeled paper bag. Get my point? Just round it up.
- Find a place in your home to keep all of this fascinating stuff but don’t just shove it up on the shelf in the closet. Honor it and give it a special place and later you’ll be glad you did.
- Sort and clip everything together by months, or put it in monthly files.
- Divide each month into two parts – Income and Outgo (aka expenses). Very basic. Money in and money out!
- If you didn’t already have a system like this, now you do!
Getting It Done
I’ve noticed that people take one of two approaches.
- Get it done!! ASAP! Ready set go! Finished! Refund on the way. Put the stuff away and get on with life
- Procrastinate. Usually caused by some sort of irrational, unnecessary, fear or worry. Or, maybe you have some resentment toward the whole concept of taxes – a philosophical thing. You have a right to your philosophies, but the stress of avoiding makes you suffer. Procrastination fails to help and you can blow past it by making yourself do the things in the Getting Started part of this article. You can dislike it all you want – just get it done.
- Make an appointment with your chosen tax prep expert.
- Be on time!
- Take everything! Don’t feel embarrassed about your method of organization because your professional won’t judge you. If they need something from you, they will call.
- Allow plenty of time for your professional to get the work done.
I think so! We all feel big relief when it’s done, so make a special dinner at home, go out for dinner, eat some chocolate, pat each other on the back and tell each other, “We did well! Glad that’s done!””
Links With Good Info
IRS Free File – See if you qualify for free tax prep software!
IRS – This easy to navigate main site has printable forms, free how-to booklets, phone numbers, everything IRS. Over the years the IRS has put a lot of effort into being friendly, respectful, and easy to talk to. Very helpful!
What Papers to Keep and How Long – This very handy list says it all and comes from Consumer Reports. I keep a copy of this hanging up in our home office all the time! We have had a lot of fun shredding and burning all that old stuff we now know we don’t need.
Hope this article helps! Let me know!