A new year not only brings a host of new opportunities, but it also brings a host of familiar obligations. One such obligation is paying taxes, which doesn’t have to be done until mid-April. But waiting until the last minute with respect to taxes can make the process even more difficult, and putting it off certainly won’t help those people who vowed to stop procrastinating in the new year.
Getting a headstart on tax season can be beneficial in numerous ways, not the least of which is avoiding the last-minute rush to file your return come the filing deadline. Even if you have yet to receive your W-2 (which you should have in hand by January 31), there are steps you can take to get ready for the coming tax season.
* Gather your documents. Your W-2 is likely not the only document you will need to prepare your tax return. Statements regarding your investments, student loan payments, mortgage and a host of other documents might be necessary for you to fill out your return. You should start receiving these documents in January, so gather them as they come in and keep them in a convenient place. This will ensure you don’t get frustrated when filling out your return while increasing the chances you earn all of the credits and deductions you deserve.
* Examine past returns. Many people have questions when filling out their tax returns, but those who wait until the waning days of tax season to prepare their returns ignore those questions in an effort to make the filing deadline. When you start preparing for tax season early, examine past returns and see if there are any questions you wanted to ask in the past that you didn’t have time for. Write these questions down as you comb through your past returns and bring the questions to your tax preparer when the time comes. If you don’t plan on hiring a professional to prepare your taxes, you can contact the IRS with your questions, and the earlier you do so, the more quickly you are likely to have your questions answered.
* Take your time. When you decide to get an early start on your taxes, you allow yourself to take your time preparing your return. This reduces the likelihood of getting stressed when filing your return. Many people get a bit nervous when filing a tax return, but that stress can be even greater if you leave everything until the last minute. If you’re starting early, take your time when working on your return and don’t succumb to any potential stressors.
* Consider hiring a professional. Starting early also gives you an opportunity to determine if preparing your own return is too tall a task. If that’s the case, consider hiring a professional to prepare your return. If you decide to hire a professional, do so early so that person has more time to devote to your return. If you wait too long, chances are the tax preparer will be buried with many other customers’ returns and won’t be able to devote as much time to preparing your return as you would like.
More information about getting ready for tax season is available at www.irs.gov.