5 Tips for Preparing to File Your Tax Return

So, tax season is here. Yipee! No, really, tax season is here – bring on the headaches. It’s probably safe to say that no one actually enjoys filing taxes. Even if you are expecting a considerable refund, it can be a real chore gathering all of the necessary paperwork and wracking your brain to document any and every deductible item you can think of. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process go a little more smoothly, and to ensure you get the most favorable results possible. Here are five tips for preparing to file your 2011 tax returns:

Scheduling time. Filing your tax returns is not a task to take lightly. It requires your undivided attention. Don’t attempt to prepare your taxes over dinner, while watching television, or in the office break room. Instead, pencil in a specific time to work on your taxes at home, when you know the house will be quiet and you can get your mind in full-on tax mode. That’s the only way to avoid unnecessary mistakes that could end up costing you a lot of money.

Recordkeeping. The best time to begin preparing to file your 2011 tax returns is in January of 2011. Ok, it’s obviously too late for that, but keep this in mind for 2012.  Make it a point to get into good recordkeeping habits, so that you have complete, accurate, and thorough records when it comes time to actually sit down and file your returns.

Organization. Create a filing system specifically for your tax return records. What should go in your filing system? Receipts for all of your write-offs, paperwork from income sources (W-2s or 1099s), investment account statements, social security statements, interest-earned bank statements, college financial aid statements, and/or anything else that you may need a record of when it comes time to shell out the backup.

Learn the codes. You don’t have to have a thorough knowledge of every tax code out there, but make it a point to bone-up on the latest tax codes that may affect your tax return status. If you are not all that tax-savvy, there are some simple, easy to understand tax code narratives on websites designed for people just like you.

Choose filing method. How complicated are your taxes? Are you comfortable doing them yourself? If so, there are some really great programs that you can use to do your own tax work. However, if you find that you aren’t sure about your tax preparation acumen, it’s best to hire a professional. Decide now how you want to handle this issue so you can start shopping around for the best software, tax preparation office, or accountant for you.

You don’t have to like filing your taxes, but you still have to file them. Ease some of your tax season frustrations by thinking ahead and following these simple tips.

About the Author: Carrol Petruska, NAC, NHA, CHA currently works in business administration and helps phlebotomy schools prepare for tax filing season. She started her career as a phlebotomist and then moved into the administrative side of the healthcare field. Visit http://www.associationphlebotomytraining.com/ for more information about phlebotomy associations and schools.

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29 thoughts on “5 Tips for Preparing to File Your Tax Return”

  1. The reason I really like this article is because the thought of filing on your own can be intimidating, if not downright scary! It provides tips that take a lot of the worry out of the equation, and gives you the confidence of knowing that you have your bases covered. Thank you for this post!

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