It is no wonder so many Americans dread the April 15 tax filing deadline, (April 18th this year). The U.S. tax code already contains more words than the Bible, and hundreds of pages of new rules and regulations are often added.
With so much complexity, it is no wonder so many of us put off filing our taxes until the last possible minute, but taking that approach introduces its own stresses and can potentially land you in hot water with the IRS. What if you do not get it done on time? You can file for an extension, but you are still required to pay the taxes you owe plus penalties and interest. How do you know you didn’t make a mistake with your last-minute tax filing? Something as simple as a mathematical error could increase the odds of an audit and put you in the crosshairs of the IRS.
We specialize in helping people who owe $10,000 or more to the IRS or have years of unfiled tax returns, so we’ve seen our fair share of mistakes made by innocent taxpayers. If you have any tax trouble or owe more than $10k to the IRS or state but can’t pay in full, contact our firm today. We help people find tax relief Get help from Ron Friedman, CPA.
That said, we recommend taking a methodical and step-by-step approach to preparing and filing your taxes and avoid burying your head in the sand on April 15th. As with any unpleasant and complicated task, breaking your taxes down into smaller and more manageable chunks can make things easier. This year, vow to take a step-by-step approach to your tax return. If you follow these simple steps, you could be done with your taxes before you know it.
Step 1 – Set Up a Command Center
Chances are you will start receiving tax documents in early January, and you may still be receiving those documents in March. That means you need a convenient place to keep all those documents. Setting up a command center in your home makes it easier to store those documents and keep them at hand.
If you have a home scanner, take a few minutes to image each document as it arrives. Set up a special folder on your computer or cloud storage service to hold all those documents. Those electronic copies can be invaluable if the originals are damaged or destroyed.
Step 2 – Choose A Good Tax Preparation Service (But Use A Tax Resolution Service For More Complicated IRS Issues)
While they cannot make the task totally painless, tax preparation professionals do make the process a great deal easier.
Keep in mind, if you owe multiple years of taxes and have multiple years of unfiled returns, we recommend reaching out to a tax resolution firm that will understand your unique situation and find the tax relief you need. Most tax preparers aren’t trained in complex tax resolution, so find the right firm to help you with your case.
Step 3 – Enter Your Tax Documents As You Get Them
One of the great things about technology is that you organize and file each tax document as you get it, often you can download all your tax documents from various online services. For example, your direct deposit payroll service will give you your W2 and different vendors provide statements and 1099’s online. If the mailman brings you a 1099-INT or a W-2, you can simply scan things as they come in.
Just open each document, scan it to create an electronic backup and log on to your favorite secure cloud storage to file your documents. Whether you get five tax documents a day or just one, entering the information now can save you time later on.
Step 4 – Review Your Documents and Final Tax Return
After you think you have all your documents organized and your tax return is ready to file, the next step is to review everything and make sure there aren’t any obvious issues. Go through the paper and electronic copies and check each one off on your tax return. If any of those documents are missing or anything is wrong, go back and enter them right away.
Step 5 – Bring It All Together
Now that the final review is complete and all the documents have been entered, it is time to bring it all together and actually file your return. Your tax prep professional should include a series of checks designed to catch common errors and point out audit flags. Be sure to ask questions and correct any problems you might find. Be sure to print off a copy of your tax return and save an electronic version to your computer.
Nothing can make filing taxes fun, and this annual chore will never be a pleasant one. Even so, you can make the task less taxing by breaking tax filing down into its component parts. Following the steps outlined above can help you deal more effectively with your tax bill and all the complexities of the tax code.
OWE BACK TAXES?
Our firm specializes in tax resolution and helping people who owe the IRS or state $10,000 or more. We’ve seen taxpayers get blindsided every year by a huge tax bill and often falling behind on their taxes for years on end. If that’s you, we can help. Contact our firm today to discuss your tax debt settlement options Get help from Ron Friedman, CPA.