Now that it’s February and you have all of the documents you need to complete your taxes, there’s no excuse for not getting your finances squared away. Here are three steps to streamlining the process:
Manage Your Paper: even though we live in a digital world, doing your taxes still requires large piles of paper – paycheck stubs, bank and credit card statements, receipts from big-ticket items and home improvement projects, investment statements and IRA contributions.
As you gather all your documents for this year’s tax submission, get rid of outdated documents to make room in your file cabinet. Throw away any receipts that have already been reconciled, or that belong to things you’re not planning on returning. Move financial records from prior years to an archive box to store them on the off-chance you receive an audit, but where they won’t clutter up your frequently-accessed files.
Make a Checklist: before you assemble your tax packet, make a checklist of the documents you’ll need. Then match each form to the additional documents you need and cross it off as you put it into your tax organizer.
Get Professional Help: unless you have a degree in accounting, it’s most likely that doing taxes in the modern world is more of a headache than it’s worth. By the time you factor in two incomes, childcare expenses, home business records, and investment incomes, you have a mountain of paperwork to climb that can suck up your free time for weeks. (No wonder it’s so tempting to procrastinate on taxes!)
Using tax software or enlisting a professional accountant can help relieve much of the burden, and preparing your documents beforehand can cut back on extra trips back and forth.
You’re only a couple of steps away from peace of mind. Tackle your taxes today.