Updated: Jun 10, 2019
Let's face it, tax season is the worst! All the stress of having a deadline, coupled with the fear of audits, and the ever-present question: "Am I doing this right?" Well, fear not, fellow tax-payers! Here are some tips that'll help you get through this tax season!
Taxes can be tough, but don't let that stop you from taking control of your future. With a little guidance, anyone can do their own taxes.
Why Should I Pay?
When it comes to paying the government, you may not be jumping at the bit to say goodbye to your well-earned dollar. Some people have a problem paying the government a larger portion of their income for what may seem very little in return. Your friends may even tell you that you don't have to pay, or that you can always pay later and there is no punishment from missing a year or two of filing. But they'd be wrong, and here are a few reasons why:
Travel Delays: If you plan on traveling outside of the country, those plans might be ruined when you find out that passports can be denied to those who have outstanding payments due to the IRS.
Home Buying: Lenders may request your tax transcripts and if you are unable to provide them that is usually a red flag. You may be denied a loan if you don't pay your taxes.
Audit: The IRS may send an agent to investigate you and your lifestyle directly. If you are audited, you may be into more trouble than simply owing the government some money. You definitely don't want to be audited.
“Death, taxes, and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them!" - Margaret Mitchell
Tax Tips :
Here are some guidelines to follow if you want your Aprils to bring you the least amount of stress possible :
1.) Get Organized - Print out a checklist of everything you need, and then separate those documents into folders. This way, when it comes time to file, you're ready. Here are some essentials that you'll want to set aside and have handy:
- Personal / Tax Payer Information for everyone on your return
- Personal Financial Information (income, investments, etc.)
- Business Records (work expense documentation, receipts, etc.)
- Medical Expense Records
- Charitable Donation Information
- Home Owner Documentation (paid property taxes can be deducted)
2.) Keep track of your expenses - The standard deduction (aka most often taken) is $12,000. If your work-related expenses exceed the standard $12,000, you'll want to have kept track of all of these transactions. Keep receipts so that everything is documented. You want to have accurate expense amounts, so ample bookkeeping is highly recommended!
3.) File and Pay Online - If you expect a refund, you'll want to file online. Generally speaking, people who file online have their refunds sent to them three to six weeks quicker than those who file by mail. Not only is it faster, but electronic returns generally have fewer errors when compared to those done on paper. And when you file, everything is updated instantly. Meaning your taxes will be 'filed' into the system long before a paper return is. E-filing is typically provided by most certified tax preparers.
4.) Get Help - You can always hire someone to do your taxes for you. Depending on how complex your case is, hiring a certified tax-preparer may be a wise course of action. These professionals make it their business to know everything about the current tax laws, allowing them to get you the greatest amount of deductions and write-offs as possible.
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” - Albert Einstein