Tax time is in full gear and if you haven’t began filing your taxes, consider this a friendly reminder that Tax Day is rapidly approaching.
Tax preparation can be a frustrating process for those who do not intuitively keep every receipt, file, or bill neatly tucked away in properly labeled folders.
If you are not one of these orderly people, the three tips in this article will help you approach your taxes as you would approach preparing a new recipe.
These tips will not only help keep your tax filing process neat, it will also improve efficiency.
With any recipe the first step is to compile every necessary ingredient. These ingredients are laid out on the countertop along with utensils and measuring devices.
Think of preparing your taxes with this sort of precision. It will help you avoid the overwhelming feeling that comes when paperwork covers every inch of your desk.
This is a good reason to begin the process with every item you may need neatly laid out on your work area. It will alleviate stress and mess that comes with the hustle of tax season.
Tax Tools Checklist:
- W-2 forms: You’ll want to have your, your spouses and last year’s W-2 forms.
- Documents: From business to education documents, there are a number of unique forms you may need to maximize your tax refund and/or complete your taxes. Click the link for a complete checklist. Tax Preparation Forms
- Computer: If you’re doing your taxes on your own, a computer will speed up the process and is necessary for e-filing.
- Wifi: Reliable wifi access can be easily overlooked, but will help secure your progress as you complete your filing.
- Notepad and pens: Take note of any reminders or questions that arise as you work through the tax process.
- Bills and Receipts: To maximize your tax refund, bills and receipts should be nearby.
- Calculator: Have a calculator on-hand to keep guessing to a minimal and get exact calculations.
When making a recipe, good cooks take the process one step at a time. Do the same with your taxes.
This will eliminate any chance of overlooking key information that may result in the need to backtrack or start over. A defined list of steps will also create order and reach the ongoing goal of minimizing stress.
Consider using paper and pen to write your list to help it stick in your mind.
Using clean utensils and avoiding cross-contamination is how chefs keep food preparation and cooking safe.
When starting your taxes you also want to consider precautions that will keep your information safe.
The IRS has reported a “steep upswing” in taxpayer data theft. Keep your data safe by being smart and aware of any links you click on or open.
Don’t open unknown or suspicious emails especially if your personal information is saved to your computer and or opened on your computer.
Opening phishing emails and or clicking unfamiliar links are two ways that theft typically occurs.
Delete and or send unknown emails to your spam folder when they appear.
Another safety tip is to use a secure web browser for improved safety. Don’t use tax time as a time to experiment with new browsers or extensions.
Create Order For Tax Time
When life gets busy it also gets messy. Tax time is one of the busiest times of the year and the time-wasting caused by a lack of order can result in unnecessary mistakes.
With multiple moving parts and various individuals involved, tax time can also be overwhelming for even the most prepared.
Tackling your taxes by making all necessary ingredients easily accessible, creating a step-by-step list, and by prioritizing safety, will make the process less agonizing and get your taxes accurately completed.
Maintain a sense of order and mark your calendars for Tax Day on April 17.
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One of the pioneers of professional organizing and productivity, Andrew Mellen is the best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!. He travels the world speaking, teaching, and coaching individuals and global brands including the New York Mets, Genentech, American Express, Time, Inc. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.