Are you still reeling from that all-nighter you pulled trying to get your taxes in by the deadline? Still decompressing after searching through every file on your computer, and every piece of paper in your house, trying to find that darned 1098-E student loan interest form?
We feel your pain.
After all, one of the reasons we started E-file.com was to try and help taxpayers make it easier to file your taxes and get on with your life.
With that in mind, here’s a checklist of what you can do to make filing your taxes easier next year – and, hopefully, avoid another exhausting April night.
Start keeping orderly records now.
We know – staying organized is easier said than done. Sometimes, you don’t have time to stick that receipt in your “Taxes” folder and it spends the night on your kitchen table.
But taking a minute or two to put all your financial information in one, easy-to-find place now will save you hours come next April.
If you’re self-employed or bring in 1099 income, consider using an online expenses tracker – there are plenty to choose from, and they’ll work on your mobile device too so you can track your expenses immediately, as you accrue them. That way, you’ll have everything you need ready to go electronically when it’s time to file.
It’s also a good idea to keep some sort of file for paper copies of your tax returns and any tax-related forms. While keeping electronic records is important, resist the temptation to shred all your paper tax returns. The IRS advises keeping copies of your tax returns for at least 3 years after they were filed.
When it’s time to file, gather all the paperwork and files you need – THEN start the process.
One surefire way to make the tax filing process even more frustrating is to have to keep stopping so you can go search for a form you didn’t think you needed.
The best thing to do is to gather all your paperwork in one place ahead of time. If you’ve stayed organized throughout the year, you should have most of what you need, but other forms, like interest statements, may trickle in throughout the first couple months of the year.
Take the time to gather your paperwork and locate any electronic files on your computer before you sit down to start filing. You can even let it sit on your desk for a week, if that’s what you need to do – the important thing is that you have all the information at your fingertips.
Start early and try to finish in one go.
Remember that paper in college that you started and finished the night before it was due? Probably wasn’t your best work, right?
The same is true of your taxes. Starting your tax filing the day before the deadline is an easy way to make mistakes, forget to report income, or miss an important deduction that could save you serious money.
If you can, file once you’ve received all what you need – your wage and income forms, student loan interest reports, mortgage interest forms, etc. It’s easiest to do the whole thing in one go, but if you can’t, starting early at least means that you’ll have time to finish up without being rushed.
If you didn’t use E-file.com last year, try us out this year. We’ve created a program that can walk you through filing your taxes quickly, easily, and accurately. If you have a question along the way, our support staff can help. Filing electronically is faster than filing forms through the mail, its also less expensive than working with a tax professional. Find out more about how electronic filing works here.