Whether you’re trying to file your taxes on your own or you have someone that is helping you get everything prepared, chances are good that you’re stressed. April 15th is the deadline to have your taxes filed traditionally, and it means that this might start becoming crunch time for a lot of people very soon. You have to make sure that you have everything in place as much as possible.
If you rush through getting your taxes done, you might miss out on deductions that could lower your tax bill. if you know that you are going to be paying money rather than receiving an overpayment (refund), you will need to make sure that you focus on getting the numbers right.
The penalties for not filing are actually stiffer than the penalties for filing late. The IRS wants to have an accurate accounting of how much you made, how much you are claiming, and how much they are going to receive from you. It’s better to overpay a little than underpay. If you underpay, the IRS will often go back multiple years to make sure that it’s not a mistake. It’s going to be up to you to make sure that you really are getting things squared away.
First and foremost, you really want to make sure that you don’t wait till the last minute. That’s when your tax preparer is going to be the most stressed. That’s when they’re likely to have multiple cases to work at the same time, and this is often where mistakes grow and grow into something that takes on a new life for itself. You don’t want to find yourself just floating in the wind when it comes to a tax problem — start early. Ask your preparer when the best time to come in would be. Schedule. Make sure that you get someone that truly knows the ins and outs of current tax issues. It’s easy to want to save money on tax prep fees, but those are deductible anyway.
If you’re going to prepare your own taxes, then you need to move quickly. The better organized you are, the easier your tax situation will be. On the other hand, if you have tons of receipts strewn all over your office, you might be in for an uphill battle.
You also want to make sure that you are working with the right tax documents. You need your W2 if there’s any wages to report, and a 1099 if there’s any self employment income or miscellaneous income to report. Keeping your documents straight will make a world of difference when crunch time comes.
You also want to e-file if at all possible. Paper returns are still accepted, but that’s a lot of paper and you will need copies of everything. It’s also a very slow way to get your money taken care of. It’s going to be a lot smoother in the long run to take care of it electronically. You’ll also receive notification of when the IRS received your return, which makes things a lot easier as well.
Hang in there! Tax season doesn’t have to drag you down, you know!