2019 has officially begun and that means filing season is upon is. I get asked all the time how can I prepare for tax season, how do I get organized, what should I do? Well, let me tell you, it is easy. No need to stress or be overwhelmed, we are here to help. Here are the top five things you can do to have a seamless, stress free tax filing season:
1 – Get the help of a professional
Did you know there are more words in the IRS tax code than the Bible? Over 74% of tax returns prepared by a non-tax preparer or CPA contain errors and lost tax deductions. Don’t try to conquer this alone. Get a trusted advisor that will explain the tax process to you, file a complete and accurate return, go over a preliminary draft return with you, and educate you on your current tax situation and potential tax savings opportunities.
2 – Get organized early
Since 2018 just ended now is the perfect time to get everything organized for your taxes. Don’t put it off and wait. It is fresh in your mind and should be easily accessible.
Create a filing system that works for you. I tell my clients if it works for you, it works for me.
At a minimum create a master tax folder. If you have a business, create a folder for that entity too.
Go through your bank statements, credit card statements and receipts. If you think it applies put it in the folder. It’s not your job to determine if it is a tax write off, its mine. When in doubt, put it in the file.
3 – Document, document, document
The key to all taxes is in the details and in the IRS eyes if it isn’t documented it doesn’t exist. Also, retain all documents for seven years in either an electronic or hard copy format. Documents have to be readily available and produced if ever questioned by the IRS.
2 – Use the past as a guide for this year’s return
When compiling all your tax documents be sure to review your prior year’s tax return as a guide. It will remind you of key items such as income and deductions that may have slipped your mind.
Remember to tell your CPA or tax advisor about any new items that happened over the year. This includes changes in filing status, address changes, dependents, jobs, income, retirement, losses, etc.
You can also ask your CPA or tax preparer for a client organizer. This is visual reminder in a template form of all forms of income, deductions and credits that may apply to your personal tax situation.
3 – Don’t forget about Itemized deductions
Even if you think you won’t be able to take advantage of an itemized deduction due to increased standard deduction limits in 2018 remember to provide all Schedule A items (medical, state and local taxes including property taxes, vehicle registration, state withholding, mortgage interest statements and charitable contributions). Even though you may only qualify for a standard deduction at the federal level you may be able to itemize at the State level.
My firm and team are always here to answer any questions, guide you and assist you in the tax filing process. Our goal is to take the stress out of tax filing and make it easy and seamless for you.
If I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.