As soon as April 15 is past many of us like to put taxes - and everything that irked us about the tax season - out of our minds at least until the calendar year has changed. Don't let it creep up on you again. Keep next tax season's stress levels down by getting organized now. Learn how to create a less stressful tax day next time around.
- Keep Up With Record-Keeping - What should stay and what can go? Well, here's a handy guide.
- Save a Date! - Commit to a date on next year's calendar, like some time in February when you'll have received most if not all of your tax-related forms.
- Keep Your Checklist in Order Year-Round - The documents needed to file your taxes are the same every year - you just add to the pile as time goes on and your tax status becomes more complicated. If you are filing as an individual you will need the following. Make sure to keep the checklist and docs together in your handy 2010 tax file year-round.
- Create New Files - Instead of throwing all of your receipts and documents in the same envelope, create a filing system for the current year's taxes. It just takes a sharpie and a couple of folders to get organized.
- Changing Your Filing Status? Start Planning Now - Planning on tying the knot? Talk to your soon-to-be spouse and collaborate on your tax plan for the next year so you're both saving the right documents and have your files in order when the next tax day comes and you're filing together.
- Make Big Plans Around the Tax Cycle - If you're considering a giant financial move consider the tax cycle and recent law changes. If you are flexible on the time span do your research whether you should make your move this year, or next.
- Hold On to the Important Information - There are important documents besides the W-2 you'll get from your employer next year and any 1099 statements from your investments. Make sure you hold on to anything pertaining to the following expenses so you don't have to dig up duplicates later: job-related moving costs, property taxes, donations, medical bills, childcare, and mortgage interest payments.
- Archive Your Old Tax Returns - Unfortunately, previous years' tax returns should not be treated with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. Archive these documents so they are readily available should you need to reference them, but keep them separate from anything that has to do with the current year's taxes.
- Double Check Your W-4 - If you owed taxes this year or received a huge refund, chances are your W-4 withholding amounts are off. Pay a visit to your company's human resources department and fill out a new form with more accurate information.
- Find an Accountant Now - Accountants are slammed from January through April, but things taper off a bit during the late Spring and Summer. Instead of stressing out about next year's tax season next April, start researching help now. An accountant can help you adjust your W-4 and plan for changes. If you're a DIY or online filer, but worry you were burned this year, do your research. Visit the the library, cruise online tax support and talk to friends to learn their tips.
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