By: Devin Riggs, IATG Contributor April 4, 2016
Spring has sprung, and now that it's April, another season is blooming. Yes, it’s that time of year again, tax season. Taxes are not fun, and I will not pretend that they can be. They are a stressful and intricate task, based on A LOT OF COMPLEX MATH and are mandatory for all working citizens. If you don’t do them, or you do them wrong you could go to jail. So it’s surprising to me that it’s not part of a required personal finance class in all high schools across the country. How is that not a thing if it’s a requirement of all citizens to complete taxes every year for their whole lives?
If you’re like me and are still getting used to the rules of the game, here’s some helpful tips to navigating this year’s and all future tax seasons.
- Collect all the documents you’ll need before getting started.
It’s so much easier to get through the task when you have everything ready and at your fingertips. Organization is key and will keep you on track, so you don’t miss anything important that might screw up your return or force you to do it over again. If you don’t know what you need, start by asking your employer for any information or documents they have on your income for the last year.
- Keep your receipts
You might have heard this before, but I cannot stress it enough that tracking your expenses will help immensely in getting the most out of your return. Receipts are not easy to organize but just having them all in one place is a great first step.
Create and stick to a budget
This might seem unrelated, but having and sticking to a budget keeps you organized and on track for your income and expenses. And it’s a great way to…
I know it is time consuming, but it will make your life easier when getting into the intricate details of your return. You can’t imagine the amount of money you could receive just by recording information like work mileage, medical expenses, and charitable donations.
Whistle While You Work:
1. Listen to calming music or sound effects
This is the part where I attempt to make doing your taxes fun…or at least not as awful as they sound. Have a 30 second dance party, take a nap…just remember to stay calm and…
2. Take your time and read all the instructions fully and completely
This is self explanatory, yet very critical part to the process. If you don’t read every line [I read everything twice], you could miss vital information that could save you from having to pay.
3. If you're confused or unsure…Ask Questions.
While we still don’t have a mandatory class to show us the ropes, we can learn from others. My dad has been an integral guide as I take on this challenge, and he walks me through any issues that come up for me. The internet also has a lot of guides and resources to make it less stressful.
4. Hire an accountant or CPA
When all else fails and you have no clue what to do or where to start or how to finish, go to the experts, even if it’s just to double check the work you’ve done on your own. I know for a lot of people, including myself, this may not be an option financially, but it’s good to know that help is available.
This tax season remember that it’s okay to ask for help and to take deep breaths. Good luck!
Do you have any helpful tax tips? Share some of these below or with friends!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.