Guess what time it is…yep you guessed it…its TAX TIME!!! I was reminded yesterday when I checked the mail and received my W-2 from my previous company. Whether you are doing your taxes yourself or having someone prepare them for you there are two keys to doing it successfully and keep it from being a major headache for you:
1. Get Organized! It doesn’t matter if your return is complicated or easy, if you do it yourself or not, all of us have forms that are need to get the job done. Be on the lookout for documentation from employers, lenders, etc. Here are some of the common forms to set aside:
- W-2 (for you and your spouse, if applicable)
- 1099 (all types, including interest and dividends)
- 1098 (your mortgage interest statement, but there are also other types for certain donations and for student loans)
- Brokerage account statements and tax forms (which should include your cost basis for figuring capital gains and losses)
- Receipts for donations, business costs, and other tax-advantaged expenses, State income tax, property tax, and sales tax documentation
- Other documentation related to income, such as alimony (child support isn’t usually taxed), jury duty pay, unemployment benefits, Social Security income, etc.
- Any other documentation required to “prove” you are eligible for tax credits and tax deductions (including medical expenses, casualty losses, moving expenses, job hunting expenses, etc.)
- You will also need the Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents that you claim on your tax forms. If you don’t have the Social Security numbers for your children, you won’t be able to claim the EIC and other tax breaks.
- If you have an S-Corp. or LLC, you will need to prepare other documentation, possibly including a profit and loss statement, and payroll information. Consult with a tax professional if you are unsure about what you need for your business.
2. Start Early!! Filling out your forms early can be a huge advantage because it will give you the opportunity to figure out what you need and the time together information that may be missing. Most organizations send out tax information between January 31 and February 28. This does not mean that you can’t get started earlier though. If you haven’t received items by the end of February, then it is time to follow up and make certain they have current and correct contact information for you.
If you have someone else prepare your taxes, call ahead of time, and ask what’s needed. This will make your tax preparer happy, and allow you to better prepare.
The best way to get started with your taxes is simple, keep everything handy and organized through the year and a great tool for doing so is QuickBooks Pro Yes, it’s an investment, but it makes good business sense to make good investments. The ease of using QuickBooks to process your taxes is PRICELESS!!! Happy taxing!!