It’s 2016! That means it will soon be time to file your 2015 tax returns!
Okay, I admit, I am one of very few people who actually enjoys tax season. But to me it’s like a game. Put in all of these numbers and see where you land.
Yes, your tax return isn’t due til April. But I’m a big fan of filing your return as early as possible, and even though you probably don’t have all of your documents yet, you can start getting prepared.
Sit down and make a list of all of the paperwork you need. And then check off the items as they arrive. Right now, I have a file folder on my desk to collect the paperwork as it comes in. So far, I have my property tax bill from last year and my charitable donations records. That means I’m awaiting a lot of documents. Keeping a list of what I’m waiting for helps keep me organized. That way, I know when I’m finally ready to finish my taxes.
Most documents are due to you by the end of January. That’s not an outright rule, but in general, you can expect to have all of your documentation by the beginning of February. If the deadline has come and gone and you’re still expecting some paperwork, don’t hesitate to reach out to the person who should be providing it. I made that mistake last year, which is part of the reason I made a list for this year.
Be sure to not forget about any documents. Did you do any freelance work this year? Earn any money from a blog? How about investments? Even your interest on your savings accounts counts.
And of course, there are the deductions. If you’re a blogger earning income, you can count your hosting as a business expense, for example. And charitable donations are a huge and easy deduction.
Personally, I use TurboTax to complete my taxes because it’s what works for me. I could just do them for free by hand, but I’m always convinced I’ll do something wrong, and I’ve never had a single complaint about TurboTax. I’m not formally endorsing them or anything, but I’m happy with the choice. There are a number of great options out there in varying price ranges, and if your situation is more complicated, going to an accountant is never a bad plan.
My biggest tip? Do your taxes as soon as possible. Once you get all those documents in hand, sit down and do the work. A tax estimator online is a great tool to assist. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you’re due a refund, this gets it in your hand much sooner. But what if you owe money? You can always complete the forms and then submit them closer to the deadline. This is one area where the digital methods rock – I submit my taxes online and never have to venture to the post office. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in line at the post office on tax day.
So what are you waiting for? Start getting organized now! You certainly won’t regret it come tax time.
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