Make Filing Personal Tax Returns Easier Next Year

April 12, 2017

If you have already filed your 2016 tax return you’re probably relieved. If you haven’t, you’re probably mad at yourself for procrastinating. Either way, you can streamline the process for 2017’s filing by setting up a system now.  Here are some tips to make getting ready to file your personal tax return easier next year.

Set up a system. If you’re tech savvy, determine which apps will work best for you and commit to using them. Otherwise, create a file system – whether you use a file or a box, keep your receipts and if you’re so inclined, a spreadsheet. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.

Meet with your tax preparer this tax year and plan for the year ahead. Instead of asking those tax questions right before you file, have a conversation about this year, now. Perhaps you’re anticipating changes this year that will impact your tax situation. Are there things that you do each year that cost you unnecessarily such as poor record keeping and a lack of organization, things that your CPA is fixing at the busiest time of the year and escalating the cost of your tax return preparation? And, if you’re unhappy with your tax preparer, this is a good time to find someone new.

Check your withholding amounts.  Have you gone from part time to full time employment? Will you have more dependents to claim this year, or less? You may have stock options or bonuses to consider. Your tax preparer will want to know these things in advance to help you anticipate your tax liability.

Keep track of your charitable contributions including letters and checks that document the amounts you’ve donated. Planning for the year will also help you stay accountable to supporting the organizations most important to you.