Tax Preparation – Be Aware And Organized
No one wants to be caught with her or his pants down when tax time rolls around. Being prepared to file your federal income tax payments and/or returns means being aware of what need ahead of time, and staying organized throughout the year.
If you are married, the first thing to consider is whether or not your spouse and you are going to be filing individually or separately. Some couples like to keep their finances separate because the IRS doesn't always look favorably on two income households, especially if you have no dependents other than yourself.
Whether filing separately or together, be sure to keep at least one complete copy of last year's tax forms. This will help you and your accountant enormously, even if your circumstances have changed (perhaps you've just gotten married, have new children or have moved into a higher or lower tax bracket).
If you decide to use an accountant, you aren't completely writing off your own tax preparation responsibility. Most accountants are working with hundreds of tax forms each year and are under obligation to get yours finished, not to make your taxes cheaper or your return the highest it can possibly be.
Remember that while accountants are trying their best to do what is right for you, they can only work with as much information as you have provided them.
All the tax forms that the IRS publishes each year are available online, so there is no reason not to start preparing yourself as early as possible. If you leave things to the last minute, you are more likely to make mistakes.
A key step in tax preparation will be familiarizing yourself with the standard deductions and keeping a checklist each year of papers or receipts you need to keep handy. This includes any expenses incurred for the purposes of moving, working, or traveling, as well as for education and charity donation. Even the smallest expenses can really add up when you realize that you will be able to write them off.
Tax preparation is easy when you know what to look for. Use the standard forms that the IRS publishes even if your finances are uncomplicated, because you may find that you can deduct expenses you didn't even know you had. When it comes to taxes, educating yourself is the best preparation.