Ten Steps to Make Next Year's Tax Season Less Stressful

Posted on 04/16/2010

April 15 has come and gone, but just like the Terminator, it’ll be back. If you’re breathing a sigh of relief that Tax Day is over, you may need some help to ensure that next year’s tax season isn’t as stressful. Here are ten steps that will make filing your taxes, easier, quicker and a whole lot less painful.

1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

If you’re thinking you have another 364 days until you have to start worrying about your taxes, think again. Waiting until the last minute is a surefire way to make the process of filing your taxes more stressful. You’ll spend months dreading it and a few hours completely frantic.

2. Get Organized Now
The first quarter of 2010 is already over. But it’s not too late to start getting organized for next tax season. Buy yourself a binder and start filing away important documents like bills, bank statements and expense reports. Keep receipts for business expenses and charity donations filed separately. If you do this the whole year, tax season will seem simple.

3. Pre-Pay, if Required
For business owners or the self-employed, pre-paying your taxes is a requirement. Making payments to the IRS at the end of each quarter will make tax time next year much less stressful. Not only will you avoid penalties for not pre-paying, you’ll be less likely to owe Uncle Sam a huge pile of cash.

4. E-File
E-filing your tax return just makes sense. You won’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail which is just another concern that will be eliminated come tax time.

5. Use Direct Deposit
Since you’re opting for e-filing you may as well go for direct deposit if you’re expecting a refund. You’ll get your money several days or even weeks sooner and once again, you won’t be at the mercy of the postal service.

6. Hire Help
Not everyone is an accounting whiz. If numbers aren’t your thing—and even if they are—you may want to consider hiring the help of a pro next time around. Schedule an appointment early on in tax season and soak up their expertise.

7. Establish a Place for Tax Forms
Did you spend any time hunting down W-2s or other important documents this tax season? Eliminate the time waste and instead establish a place for all tax forms to be stored. Perhaps it’s a kitchen drawer, or maybe it’s a folder in your desk. No matter where it is, make sure every document that shows up is taken promptly to its new home.

8. Review all Documents
Don’t just assume your tax documents are correct. From W-2s to 1040s, give it a thorough review for accuracy.

9. Hold onto Important Papers
Don’t throw anything away. Keep all tax documents for several years in case you ever need them again.

10. Be Honest
Don’t lie to the IRS and you’ll avoid a big pile of stress. Honesty is always the best policy—especially when it comes to taxes.

By Alison Storm

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