Although I am not a licensed tax provider, I have spent enough years cringing as January ends to offer a few pointers to would-be taxpayers (or tax refund receivers – hurrah!)
The very first thing to remember is, if you’re just getting started, YOU’RE TOO LATE! Not to push you into a state of panic, but some of the details need to be put in place earlier.
-If you wanted to offer charitable donations, well, you needed to donate that hideous vase to the charity auction sooner. Or, contribute to any other charity and ask for a document to show you made the donation.
-If you planned to be married and didn’t, well, there are a lot more things you needed to get accomplished in addition to taxes. Filing jointly is great, but there’s a life to consider.
-If you had your baby late in the year, you are able to declare the little bundle of joy as a deduction for that year. Small comfort, because now you have years to cover lots of expenses. Sources say (US Department of Agriculture and Money Sense) that it takes over $240,000 to raise a child. Get your headache remedy or learn meditation now.
The new world of medical insurance is causing headaches as well. Prepare for forms—on top of the many forms you already filled out to enroll in the health plan—to claim those fees.
As I thumb through the foot high pile of files, I remind myself that this was the year where I’d have it all together. My one claim of success is that I regularly dropped off items at the local donation center—and asked for receipts!
Otherwise, I’m prepared to give up a weekend to plow through the papers to figure out everything. Then, I’ll send it over to my accountant. He’s a hardy soul who states things plainly and never seems judgmental when we drop off our materials. He expects us mortals to have questions. He knows we need him for a reason.
So, perhaps the most essential tip for taxes is to find a competent accountant. He or she is worth their weight in tax refunds.
I’ve got one! Lucky me.