Getting Ready for Tax Season Without Going Crazy

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Tax season is here. For many us that brings stress and concern over what Uncle Sam will have to say about our tax returns. First of all, take a deep breath. Secondly, know that avoiding a total meltdown is completely do-able when you sit back and organize before jumping in. Here are some quick tips to help get ready for tax season without losing your mind.

  1. Decide Who’s Going to Prepare Your Taxes. This may sound like a no brainer, but deciding who’s going to do your taxes will have a major role in how you’re going to prepare. If you’re going to go to a private accountant make sure to contact him or her early to get an appointment. You will often give you a checklist of what you need. The same goes for a chain tax preparer like H&R Block. They will also give you a checklist of what you need to bring before your appointment. If you’re going to prepare your taxes yourself with the help of an online program like Turbo Tax be sure to know what you’re doing. If you don’t you could end up paying more than you should or not enough. Either way it’s a road you don’t want to go down.
  2. 2. Organize W-2s and Other Tax Paperwork. You will get your W-2s and other paperwork by the end of January, but you may not file for another month or more. This leaves plenty of time for paperwork to get lost and for you to get stressed. Avoid this by putting all your necessary forms in a special folder. There are even special tax organizers out there to sort your paperwork.
  3. Be Aware of Changes. If certain parts of your tax return have always been the same, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will continue. Make yourself aware of federal and local changes that could affect your return. Even what may appear to be the smallest change could have a big effect on your return in the end.
  4. Taxes Aren’t Due Until April 18th. Typically tax day is April 15th. But, when it falls on a weekend, it’s usually on the following Monday. April 17th happens to be Emancipation Day which is observed in the District of Columbia. So, tax day gets bumped to April 18th. While it’s only three extra days, for some people that makes all the difference. Knowing this going in can help you in case unforeseen issues arise.
  5. Review Last Year’s Return. Looking back at last year’s returns is always a good idea as you prepare for this year. This is especially key if not much has changed in the way of income or deductions. If you do this you will immediately know what paperwork you need. Although numbers can fluctuate, doing this can give you an indication of whether you may owe taxes or may be getting refund.

As you prepare you can always contact the IRS online.

The website has a great amount of information in the way of changes to tax laws as well as all the important forms you will need to file your return. There is also a section that answers some basic tax questions.

 

In the end remember everyone has to file taxes, so you’re not alone.  Just take it step by step and filing will be that much easier.