It's About Time
Get tax forms in order now to cut stress
Ready or not, here comes April 15! Were you among those doing the last-minute shuffle last year to get your taxes done and filed on time?
Was it so stressful that you swore next year would be different? That you would be more organized? That you'd start earlier?
If so, is this year different? Are you more organized? Have you started earlier?
If not, the good news is that there's still time -- seven more weeks before the dreaded deadline.
Tax time needn't be so stressful if we have all the needed forms and receipts together, and if we start early.
This is the time of year when the various forms -- the W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, etc., come rolling in.
What do you do with those forms? Do you have a special place to put them? Or do you leave them out in piles here and there?
Although I do have a good system to file important receipts and tax papers, last year, one of my 1099s went AWOL somewhere in my office. That resulted in a time-consuming search, a call for a replacement, a fee and an unwelcome delay.
This year, as the various forms come rolling in, I'm not letting any stray. I'm putting all of them in the designated place in my file cabinet as soon as they are received.
Next, I've already pulled last year's tax-related statements and receipts. I've stapled them by categories and have begun to tally the totals.
Now it's a matter of filling in the new figures in the tax organizer booklet my accountant sent. If I didn't have that, I could use last year's tax return as a guide and enter this year's figures.
Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Looking at this dreaded task objectively makes it seem easier than I'd thought.
Needless to say, it's necessary to have an organized way to store those statements and receipts during the year. Keeping them in one place makes them easy to retrieve. I use a shallow accordion file.
Since taxes are one of the certainties of life, let's make it simple for ourselves by keeping all our forms together and by starting early.
Perhaps this will be the year we surprise ourselves and our accountants by getting the figures done ahead of time!
See you in two weeks!
"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong
, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org