Steps to Prepare for Tax Season: What to Do Before You Visit Your Accountant or Tax Filing Service

February 16, 2012 by  Filed under: Taxes 

Tax season doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. Even if you hire a tax preparation professional, take steps to get your financial files ready before the appointment to maximize your time and get the best results.

Whether you’re a meticulous filer or you keep all of the past year’s receipts in a shoebox, as April 15 gets closer, you can take steps to ensure that your tax documents are organized and comprehensive. Even if you hire a tax preparation professional or accountant to file your return, you’ll find benefit in getting organized beforehand. Knowing where various documents are and being able to access them easily will speed up your filing process and allow your accountant or tax filing service to clearly understand your financial situation. Follow certain steps to get through this tax season stress-free.

Itemized Deductions

If you keep receipts for itemized deductions, go through them and divide them into categories that fit your specific situation. For instance, create files for business expenses, medical expenses, student loan payments, and property purchases and taxes. Add up the totals in each category and write those down, so that you can easily show your accounting firm or tax preparer how each expense fits into your overall financial story. Having organized receipts will also help you in the unfortunate event of an audit, as you can back up each expense you claimed.

Sources of Income

Your job may not be your only source of income, or you might have more than one job. In addition to your official W-2 or 1099 forms, you will need to provide proof of any interest income from bank accounts and show records for investments over the past year. You may also have income from rental properties, freelance or contract work, or other sources. Before your appointment with your tax preparation services professional, ensure that you have official documentation for all income for the tax year.

Charitable Contributions

You can claim charitable contributions as deductions on your tax return, but you must have materials to back up your claim. Most charities will send out letters of acknowledgement thanking you for your donation; keep those letters, and ensure that the date is close to the date on which you made the donation. You can also present receipts showing that the amount was debited from your bank account.

In addition to getting organized, keep an eye on the various deadlines that come along with tax season. For example, issuers are required to send out W-2 and 1099 forms by January 31, which means if you haven’t received your income tax documentation by mid-February, it’s worth checking in with your employer. As soon as you have all the necessary documents, get ready to file. The closer you get to April 15, the busier your tax preparer will be-and the same goes for the post office! Avoid putting off the job so long that you miss the deadline entirely; if you do miss the deadline, file those back taxes and pay any fines as soon as you are able. If you are organized and proactive about your taxes, there’s no reason you shouldn’t breeze through tax season.

Penny Jones files her own tax returns each year and is a senior Internet marketing strategist for the local online advertising firm Prospect Genius.

Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Penny_Q_Jones

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