Making a list & Checking it twice
by: Kate Thigpen
As if you’ve got nothing else to do over the holidays, here’s a few tips on getting your tax documents in order for your 2017 taxes to minimize risk, maximize your opportunity to decrease tax and to give you the peace of mind to have your taxes filed early.
Signing up for TaxCaddy will help tremendously with preparing yourself for tax season. TaxCaddy is a website (and phone app) where you can gather your tax documents and send them to your CPA. It’s a free account and once you create it, it’s yours forever. Most importantly, it will make gathering your documents so much easier!
TaxCaddy can’t know any big changes, so think through your whole year. Did you have any significant life events? Did you make any major purchases or sales? Isn’t it much simpler to think about these things sooner rather than later? We think so! Start with making your list!
Gather your documents and get them organized.
Setting aside a designated block of time to gather and focus on your tax documents reduces the likelihood that you will forget anything and gives you the chance to make a list of items you may need to retrieve from another source. TaxCaddy will be able to pull together a list of items used in your previous year tax return. It provides a checklist of what you need to look for in the current filing year. Here are some tips:
- Instead of hunting down all of your medical receipts, try reaching out to your pharmacists and healthcare providers to ask for a 2017 statement. This will save you time by not having to track down those receipts and reduces the risk you may have misplaced some.
- Avoid providing duplicate information. We will be able to prepare your tax return faster when we aren’t sorting through duplicated information. For example, if you provide us with statements for charitable contributions or medical bills, it’s not necessary to also provide the bank statements or cancelled checks to show the same information.
- If you do summarize your own documents and provide us with a summary, be sure to keep your receipts or other supporting documents on file for 7 years.
- Take advantage of electronic delivery of tax forms such as W2’s or 1098 Mortgage Interest Statements. TaxCaddy can link directly to your financial institutions and automatically add bank documents to your account. You can often access these documents sooner if you opt to receive these statements by either logging into your account or having it delivered to you electronically. Ask your bank if this service is available.
Get your information in early
As soon as you’ve gathered all of your tax documents and received your W2’s, 1099’s, 1098’s or other tax forms, bring or send it to your tax preparer. It’s extremely beneficial to bring your information in early. Why??
- The later you wait to file your taxes, the higher the risk that you are subject to identity theft.
- The sooner you file, the sooner you get your refund. Refund wait times increase significantly as the season goes on due to the volume of returns the revenue service is having to process.
- If you’re not fortunate enough to receive a refund, you will have more time to budget to pay your tax due by 4/15. No one wants to find out on April 10th that they have to come up with the money to pay by April 15th… side note… if you owe tax, we need to talk about how to mitigate your liability for the upcoming year.
- Typically accountants work on a first-in first-out basis, so getting your information in sooner is a better guarantee that you will be at the front of the line and able to file on time. The longer the tax season goes on, the busier accountants become.
Help us Help You
No one knows what happened in 2017 with your personal finances better than you do. It’s up to us to keep up with the ever-changing cumbersome tax regulations and keep you in the clear with your filings.
The best way we can do this for you is if you bring us the relevant information in an organized fashion. We get it. Getting and staying organized can be so time consuming.
That’s what Tax Caddy is for. It will do the grunt work for you by A) Providing a list of what documents you should be collecting, B) Saving you a trip to our office to drop off your documents, and C) saving you time.
If you have any questions or want to sign up, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call.