It’s tax time again. And whether you love it (for the refund) or you loathe it, it’s one of life’s necessities.
To help make the process a little less painful, we’ve compiled our top six tips for filing your taxes this year.
- Start now! This year’s deadline is Monday, April 15. Now’s the time to get started, whether you expect a refund or not. If an extension is in your future, request it ASAP to save you and your tax accountant some anxiety.
- Check your list.To ensure you’re covering all your bases, use a tax checklist that outlines the items you could potentially need. Refer to your list as you assemble your paperwork; it will make the end-to-end filing process easier.
- Stay in the Know.Tax laws change often. If you’re filing on your own, make sure you know what’s changed since last year and how those changes impact you personally. For example: In 2018, the government announced new tax laws that affect most home and small business owners. Be sure to do your research, or it could cost you more in the end.
- Enlist a pro.If you get in a pickle, reach out to a professional accountant or tax-preparation service for help. Their job is to know tax laws in detail. They can answer your questions and ensure you’ve included all the necessary information to expedite the process. One caveat, though: be sure you’re working with a reputable professional. Ask for references and check online reviews to check their M.O.
- Check, then double check.Even if you’re working with a professional, mistakes happen. Be sure to check the final form before it’s submitted. If your tax accountant makes an error that you don’t catch, it could result in an audit and substantial penalties.
- Report all your income. In a world of ‘serial entrepreneurs’ and ‘side hustles’, it might be tempting to pocket all of your earnings. Resist the urge. It’s illegal, and the consequences could be costly.
Fun fact: if you earn $600 or more from an employer (individual or company), you should receive a 1099 form that outlines the payments… and the IRS gets one too. Reporting all of your income keeps you out of trouble and comes in handy when you’re ready to make a large purchase.