It’s that dreaded time of year again. Time to do your taxes.
With the tax deadline (April 17th) approaching tomorrow, I thought I would share five things that I learned from doing my taxes, for those slackers who are racing to the finish line to meet the deadline.
Use automatic import services
If you aren’t self-employed and get a W2, most tax software programs allow you to electronically import data from employers and financial institutions. This can be so helpful, especially if you’re like me, and usually misplace the important documents. 🤦♂️
Leave taxes to the semi-professionals
If you don’t understand something when it comes to taxes, Googling the answer isn’t always the best approach – in fact, it can confuse you more! When you are tight on time or hit a wall of confusion, I suggest using TurboTax or an online tax software that will do the hard work for you. It walks you through each important part of the tax process, step by step, asking easy to identify questions so that you maximize your refund.
Don’t forget deductions
I am amazed when I hear from my friends that they don’t do any deductions when doing their taxes. It’s basically like giving free money (well, actually it’s yours) to the government. So here’s a list of some of the deductions to remember when completing your taxes:
- Charitable donations: even clothing and home goods that you drop at Goodwill can count, just make sure to get a receipt,
- Home office: dedicated space in your home which you use for work is a valid deduction, which can add up when you consider your internet, phone, etc. that you might use for work,
- IRA contributions: you can contribute to your IRA up until the tax deadline and deduct the contribution on your 2017 taxes (score!),
- Mileage: record all those business miles you drive. There are lots of apps out there which will track your mileage automatically for you using GPS, including QuickBooks Self-Employed.
I used to wait until the last possible minute to do my taxes. I mean, they’re boring. But when planning a wedding this year, I knew that doing them right away meant getting my refund earlier to contribute to our wedding fund. That means more money to spend on trips, nights out with friends and less stress. When the refund came this year, it was motivating enough to reprioritize taxes in years to come.
Plan for next year
It seems so simple, but (as noted above) I still manage to lose important paperwork — which could be hundreds of dollars in deductions. One thing I do to make my life easier when it comes time to do taxes is keeping one dedicated folder every year where I throw all receipts, paperwork, statements, etc. that I get throughout the year. Then when my W2 arrives, I know I can open up that folder to find the most important documents to get me my maximized refund.
I hope these tips were useful and helpful as you complete your taxes this year – and in years to come. Do you have any tips that you can share with me?