There is a saying that goes something like this: “There are two guarantees in life: death and taxes.” For some of you, you would rather die than have to to through another tax season. While you can’t go back and change anything for 2011, there are a few easy things you can do make your 2011 tax season less “taxing.”
Use an on-line tax preparer. You can get great deals from some on-line tax service providers such as Turbo Tax, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and others. Not only do you save money, you can download your tax forms into a file on your computer. Then, when you file the following year, they can pull in your prior year’s data saving you the hassle from tracking down those forms (note that you have to us the sam provider from year to year for this service to work).
Store receipts and items more neatly. If, when tax time comes, you dump a shoebox of receipts and stubs onto your kitchen table, you might want to consider a better filing system. I keep a hanging folder called taxes in my drawer. Within that folder I have smaller folders labeled as receipts, deductions, etc. This makes it very simple for me to keep my tax information organized and then find what I need as I prepare my taxes.
Keep better records. Let’s face it. When February 2012 rolls around, you won’t remember that $10 you donated to your favorite charity …. unless you write it down! There are ways to do this. You can do so through your checking account (possibly use duplicates and save those for tax time). You can use Quicken to keep track of your items as well — adding categories to each entry and then printing reports at the end of the year that are totaled and can easily be filed away with your taxes. You can also use an on-line service called Mint. This is a free service that helps you keep track of your financial records, which makes it easy to find your totals when you prepare your taxes.
Start prepping early – but wait to file. Don’t wait until 11:00 p.m. on April 14th to start working on your taxes. If you start earlier, you can work on them each evening rather than rushing to finish them on time. On the flip side, you might also want to wait and not file so quickly as well. Sometimes, that elusive 1099 doesn’t show until February 15th, and if you have already filed your taxes, you will have to prepare an amended return.
Taxes aren’t fun, but with a little planning and foresight, you can ease the stress they can bring. Now, paying your taxes — you’re on your own there!
(Penny Pincin’ Mom is not a tax advisor and the information in this post is not to be construed as such. You should contact your own tax advisor for issues as they directly affect you).