It’s tax season. That small sentence can bring dread and anxiety in the best of us. In fact, it seems like every year, I read more and more articles from media outlets on how to relieve tax-related anxiety. Just finding the time to hunker down and get started can be stressful. When you finally sit down and look at the forms, you realize you’re missing half of the information you need. You then spend the next few days looking for your pay stubs, receipts…. Finally you get your information together and you sit back down to tame the dragon. Eventually, you get through all the confusing forms, addendums, and schedules and you’re ready to file when you have a horrifying thought: What if I get audited? Does this all sound too familiar? Read on.
Slow and Steady
First, start early. I didn’t say, “file early” mind you; I said, “Start early”. By law, employers have to send you your W2 and 1099 forms by January 31. This means that on February 1st, you can get started. You have until April 15th to file your taxes. This gives you two and a half months to plan out your strategy. Break it down into small, easy steps. For example, on the first day, you could just fill out your name, address and other basic information. This will take you about as much time as signing up for an Amazon Prime account. The second day, you could start filling out your kids’ information. The third day you can fill out your W2 information, and so on and so forth.
Find a Software that works for you
Second, don’t go it alone. In this day and age, there are plenty of tax preparation softwares and professionals who can give you peace of mind. When I was in law school, I took several tax law classes, I volunteered as an IRS tax preparer for low income individuals and families, and I prided myself in having a pretty firm grasp of tax law and tax preparation. At one point, I was even the president of the Business and Tax Law Society for one semester. However, I will let you in on a little secret: I still use tax preparation software.
Use your Resources
My reasoning is that even if I know what I’m doing, I can still make a mistake. There are so many credits and exemptions for which you may qualify; don’t leave it to your memory to remember all of them. Additionally, tax law changes every year, even if you filed your taxes perfectly last year, chances are you’ll omit something this year. Lastly, computers don’t make calculation mistakes. If there’s one thing machines are good at, it’s math.
Go, Do & Call us if you need a Lawyer
Are you getting less anxious yet? Good. Still nervous about getting audited? Our next article will solely focus on that topic so stay tuned. In the meanwhile, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I can do this!” You’re a grown adult and you have gotten to this point on your skills, intelligence, and good looks. Millions of people have gone before you and you are not alone.Questions? Give Us a Call
Stay Alert in Tax Season:
- Start early
- Take little bites
- Gather resources & documents in one spot
- Use software — it has a better memory than you do
- Hire a tax lawyer sooner than later if you owe back taxes