Ready, Set, TAX TIME! 5 Steps to Help You Prepare for Your Tax Preparation
Happy New Year!! Before you jump into your 2020 resolutions and put 2019 behind you, take some simple steps to get your tax information organized. I know you want to procrastinate until April, but the best time to start is now and we are here to help you.
Professional tax preparers bring an unmatched level of knowledge, experience, and education to the tax planning and preparation process. We can prepare basic income tax returns for individuals as well as more complex income and other tax returns for families, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses of all sizes.
Simply put, a professional tax preparer will save you money in the long run and look out for your best interests. Anyone can drop numbers into software to prepare a tax return; we will analyze your specific situation for tax savings opportunities and help you plan for next year while making your tax experience as smooth as possible. Here are 5 simple steps to get you started.
1. Schedule an Appointment
The sooner you can meet with your preparer, the better! If you will be getting a refund, you will get it sooner. If you end up owing the IRS, you can still wait until April 15th to pay the balance without penalties or interest, so you will have more time to find the money.
If you wait too long to schedule an appointment, you may miss your opportunity to take actions that could lower your tax bill, such as your eligibility for making deductible retirement or health savings account contributions.
Having an appointment scheduled will also give you a deadline to get your documents and information gathered. Call our office at (785) 537-0190 to make your appointment today!
2. Find a Copy of Last Year’s Returns
Last year’s return can serve as a reminder of most of the documents you’ll need. Often, you will have similar income and deductions from year to year.
If you are a new client, this information is especially helpful for us to make sure everything is included. Bring your Federal and State returns in addition to any schedules that were prepared last year.
If you are an existing client, you should have received a Tax Organizer based on your prior tax return to help you find everything you’ll need this year. Let us know if you didn’t get one.
3. Gather Your Information Returns
By the end of January, you should receive the various documents you’ll need from your employer, financial institutions, and other third parties. When you receive each form, verify that the information matches your records and place in an “Income Tax File” that you’ll be able to easily grab when it’s time for your appointment.
Here are some of the more common forms that you might receive:
4. Gather Your Receipts and Other Documents
You may have receipts and other documents to gather if you own your own business, have a rental property, itemize deductions, paid child or dependent care, or had a real estate transaction.
If you itemize, look for receipts for medical costs not covered by insurance or reimbursed by other health plans (e.g., a flexible spending account or health savings account), real estate and property taxes, and acknowledgements for charitable contributions. Note that the standard deduction for 2019 is $12,200 if you file single and $24,400 if you file married filing jointly, so itemizing deductions may not be beneficial, but we can help you determine the best way to file.
If you have business or rental income and expenses to report on Schedule C or Schedule E, you’ll need to share your records with your preparer. The more organized you are, the less time it will take to prepare your return, which translates into lower fees!
If you paid for child or dependent care, bring the provider’s name, address, SSN/EIN, and amount paid.
If you purchased, sold or re-financed a home or real estate, bring your closing statement(s) (HUD-1 or Closing Disclosure).
5. List Your Personal Information
You probably know your social security number, but do you know the Social Security number for each dependent you claim? If you’ve had a baby this past year or adopted a child, make sure to bring their Social Security card.
If you anticipate a refund or want to pay any balance due via direct debit, be sure to have your bank routing and account numbers. You can split your refund if you want it to go into multiple accounts.
Use these five steps to help you get started on your tax preparation. Remember, it’s better to start sooner rather than later! If you have any questions, we are here to help! Give us a call at (785) 537-0190.