Three Ways to Help Make Tax Season Less Stressful
Thursday 21 March 2013 | GuestNo Comments
Written by MyCorporation CEO, Deborah Sweeney
April 15th once again looms over the heads of millions of taxpayers, and the complex, enigmatic nature of the IRS tax code does little to help stop frayed nerves. Every year, horrific stories of audits, and tragic tales of missed returns pervade the world around us, so it’s no wonder that people get a little freaked out. However, there are ways that you can make the entire process a little less stressful, even if you cannot afford to dump a shoebox of old financial records on the desk of an accountant and let them deal with the headache.
1. Figure out a system.
I could spend hours going over the various ways you can organize your returns, receipts, and financial statements – colored tabs, different folders, tiny pictures of different cats drawn in the margins. It doesn’t really matter how you organize your paperwork, as long as it is organized in a uniform, consistent, explainable manner. The last thing you want to do is waste time digging through mountains of paperwork looking for a statement or receipt you know that you have, but misplaced. So before doing anything, make your system and spend a few hours everyday getting everything in order. This will also help lower the amount that your accountant, if you use one, charges you. The less work that you make them do, the more money you wind up saving.
2. Go digital.
Most accountants recommend that you hold on to tax returns for a minimum of seven years as, while the statute of limitations on IRS audits does say that the IRS only has three years from the filing deadline to audit you, that three-year limit could be increased to up to six years if they suspect you underreported your income by over 25%. The state that you do business in could also have a longer stature of limitations. Unless you want an office crammed with yellowing receipts and musty papers, it’s a good idea to start digitizing your financial records and past tax returns. It’s easier and cheaper to use than ever before and cloud services, like our document storage system MyCorp Vault, mean that you can access your records anywhere there is an internet connection. Even if you experience catastrophic hardware failure, your digital records will be backed up, and can then be simply re-downloaded.
3. Seek professional help!
If you own a home, act as a landlord, or run your own business, you are well aware of the nightmare that doing your own taxes presents. In the past you either had to bite the bullet and pay an accountant, or try to take care of everything yourself and hope that you don’t mess anything up. But digitizing records isn’t the only thing that has become more affordable – contacting a CPA or other financial professional is now cheaper and easier than every before, thanks largely to the internet. Services like TurboTax CPA Select allow you to upload your tax return and other files, and then ask an actual certified professional accountant whatever questions you might have. And you don’t have to take time off from work to drive to your accountant and review every, little detail with them. Simply set up a time to call, or give them your e-mail address, and everything can be taken care of from your own home.
Only a slim few enjoy doing their taxes, but filing your returns does not have to mean pounding your head against a brick wall and waiting nervously to see whether the IRS decided to take a closer look at your finances. A little bit of organization and work this year could help make the tax season much more relaxing and, if you need help, a CPA is now only a click and an upload away. So do whatever you can by yourself, and take advantage of the digital, often cheaper, options now available. That way you can actually enjoy the month of April, rather than dread it.
About the Author:
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.