Do you get stressed out every year just before April 15th? Take some of the pain away simply by getting prepared. Here are some tips to help you relax and maybe even save some time and money.
Have a file or a place exclusively for tax items.
Tax documentation comes in the mail, from donation organizations, from brokers, from work...where do you keep it? Does it get piled in the office, on the counter, or lost in your briefcase or purse? Keep a file and mark it "2010 Tax Return." Every time you receive something related to your 2010 tax return, immediately put it in the file. And keep the file in the one place where it is convenient for you. The file might be in your office in the front of a file drawer, or it might be near your telephone. Make it stand out with stickers or a colored folder if you think it might get buried in a pile.
Know what documents you need for your return.
Want to know what you need to complete your 2009 return? Look at your 2008 return. Did you have a W-2? Mortgage interest? Brokerage documents? Chances are you will need the same documents again this year. Try to have all the pieces you need to complete the return before you sit down to work on your tax return, or before you give the package to your accountant. If your accountant has everything, it saves him or her a phone call, and saves you money.
Take notes while you prepare the return.
Keep paper and pen handy for taking notes if you prepare your return yourself. Write notes to yourself to follow up on questions and missing items. Keep this page with your tax return if you cannot complete the return in one sitting. By doing this simple step, you will know where to start when you pick up the return again, and won't spend an hour getting caught up, or repeating steps you have already done. It might be a good idea to keep this page in your files with the completed return, and to review this sheet next year when gathering tax documents.
Submit your tax return early if you can.
Avoid the stress of waiting until the last minute. File electronically if it is available (you receive refunds faster, and the refund gets deposited directly into your bank account.) If you feel more comfortable putting your tax return in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service, send it certified, and request return receipt. By doing this, you will know the U.S. Treasury and your state have received your returns, and have proof if the government claims they did not.
Taxes don't have to be a bad experience. Try to make it easier on yourself just by doing a bit of planning. Once your taxes are done, you can enjoy the spring weather!
According to Bargaineering.com, The IRS sends out over 8 billion pages in forms and instructions every single year, that's nearly 300,000 trees (now they use recycled paper).
Keep ACTIVE (current) files in your filing drawer and ARCHIVE (past) files in bankers boxes. It is easier and quicker to file and to find papers you need when your drawers are not overstuffed.
Products & Services to Know About
Clear your file cabinet of old tax records. Store your tax archives in plastic file boxes to protect them and move them to long term storage in the basement, attic or closet.
You can find this product Office Depot and other office supply stores.