Taxes… they’re inevitable for all of us. Usually tax season starts with a generalized sense of anxiety in January, followed by increasingly acute stress in the months leading up to April. To prevent tax-related meltdowns, get a jump-start on your tax prep by starting on it now. The fall may not seem like the right time to start working on your taxes—after all, when it’s October, next year’s April 15th is months away! But by taking a small amount of time in advance, you can make sure that when tax time comes next year, you’ll be completely organized and prepared. Here are a few key things you can do to get started:
Talk about taxes. Ask your tax preparer what documents they will need, how they’d like them organized, and any other ideas they may have about how to make tax time easier. Most tax preparers will be very happy to share this information with you—it makes their lives easier when your documents are organized. You can even ask if there are discounts on tax prep if you get your information to them before a certain date.
Start the sorting. Once you have a list of required documents from your tax preparer, now is the time to start sorting and weeding your receipts, invoices, bills, and bank statements. For many, this is often the most dreaded task in preparing for taxes, so it’s an especially good idea to get started on this well before the tax deadline looms.
Prepare for the future. Once this year’s documents are in order, why not get ready for next year’s documents? If you’ve created a set of folders, dividers, or an accordion to keep your financial paperwork organized, why not create a second one that you can use on January 1st? It’s only a small amount of effort to create a duplicate set while you’re in the process of creating the original system—but it’s a lot more effort to start from scratch next year.
Consider going electronic. If you haven’t already, consider using electronic systems for managing your finances. Systems like Quicken and NeatWorks are designed to help make it easy to keep track of your finances and your financial paperwork. It’s easiest to set these systems up at the beginning of the year, rather than sometime in the middle.
What are your strategies for getting ready for tax time?