“To everything there is a season.” And as tax season approaches it’s time to get organized. With a little preparation, you can help eliminate last minute mistakes and reduce the stress and anxiety of putting together your tax return. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as tax day (Tuesday, April 17, 2018) looms:
Schedule an Appointment with your Tax Adviser
If you use an accountant to prepare your taxes, don’t wait until the last minute to set up an appointment to discuss your taxes or drop off your documents. Your accountant will only get busier as April approaches.
Gather or Locate your W-2s
You should receive a W-2 from your employer(s) in the mail. Be on the lookout for it as it can easily get lost in the flood of junk mail and catalogs. Be sure to file it with your other important tax documents.
A 3-file system is a great way to keep your tax paperwork organized. With one file for income-related documents, one file for expenses and deductions (i.e. receipts), and another for investments, it will be easy to corral what you need.
Scan Your Credit Card Bills
Take a minute to look through your itemized credit card bills for the year. You may find overlooked deductions or expenses there. For example, you may have forgotten about subscriptions to newspapers or publications that you use as research, or memberships to professional organizations that automatically renew.
Do a quick search through your email database and make sure you’re not missing any deductions there. It is not uncommon to make charitable donations online. Often, the only receipt for these transactions is via email. If you didn’t print those out and file them, you may have lost track of them.
Use Your Phone
Scanning documents and receipts has never been easier now that you can use your phone to simply snap a picture and save the image. Your phone can also provide apps to help you organize and categorize receipts and prepare your taxes. Even the IRS has an app to assist you. Consider downloading the IRS2Go app, which is the official app of the IRS that includes a free tax prep assistant, tips, news, and the ability to make payments and track the status of your refund.
Taking a little time to get organized will make your tax preparation run smoothly, whether you do it yourself or use a tax preparation professional.