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Tax Prep Tips

Doing your taxes is not something you want to do but need to do.  Here are some simple tips to make the process easier.

 1.  Make sure all receipts are entered into your accounting program or, if you are doing it manually, gather your receipts and group them by category; then add up the total and record it on a sheet of paper.
 2.  Review all categories for accuracy
 3.  Gather your tax documents - W2s, 1099s, 1098s, etc. and match them to your numbers
 4.  Fill out your tax organizer
 5.  Put your tax organizer & tax documents into a manila folder/envelope for your accountant.

 6.  Send to accountant
 7.  Review tax return
 8.  Send back the efile form
 9.  Verify that the government has received the returns
10.  Pay taxes & 1st quarter tax estimate
11.  Pay accountant

Click here to download a simple checklist to keep you on track to tax completion.

1.  Set a completion deadline of February 19th to get your documents to your accountant.  Why this date?  Because it gives you plenty of time to fill out your tax organizer and receive all the W2s, 1099s, etc.  Think how wonderful you will feel to not be stressing out into March and/or April.

2.  Break tax prep into smaller chunks.  Use this timeline as a guideline
     a.  Start early - Use December & early January to enter all your receipts and review your categories.
     b.  Middle to end of January - fill out tax organizer & gather tax documents (W2s, 1099s, etc.)
     c.  First two weeks of February - collect remaining tax documents
     d.  Second or third week of February - make an appointment with your accountant.  They will amazed that you're done early and very happy to have time to work on your return.

3.  Remember it usually takes 2 - 3 times longer than you think, so plan accordingly.  Used focused concentration to get done sooner than later.  Schedule a 1 to 2 hour appointment with yourself and decide on only 1 task to do, i.e. review categories.  Don't get up until that one task is done.  Then, schedule another appointment to do another task.  With 3-4 mini appointments your tax prep will be done in no time.

4.  If you are using an accounting program create year-end tax reports and save them so you don't have to recreate them every year.  You will be amazed how fast tax prep will go using these pre-saved reports.

5.  Create a physical file folder and a computer folder called Taxes.  Each time you get a tax document drop it in the Taxes folder.  At the end of the year all tax documents will be in one place.

6.  Create a checklist of items you need to collect so you won't miss anything (i.e. Schedule H, Schedule K-1, investment 1099s).

7.  Use last year's tax return as a guide..

8.  Print out bank and credit card summary reports to help.

9.  Put a checkmark on each receipt/tax document you've processed so you only touch it once.

10.  Jot a note on all receipts, especially meal receipts, at the time of purchase so you're not wasting time trying to remember what the charge was for.

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