How-To: Organize Your Taxes in a Pinch

By whitney | April 3, 2014

Photo via Kikki. K

Photo via Kikki. K

Ugh, the dreaded tax season is approaching. Obviously, doing your taxes is not a fun task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just set aside an hour; grab your favorite beverage, and get it knocked out!

Begin by gathering the necessary documents, which, depending on how you file, could be located in various places. Daily Finance lists the most important tax-related items:

  • Last year’s tax return.
  • The Social Security number — or tax ID number, if applicable — and birthdate for you and everyone in your household.
  • Income information for employees: W2s.
  • Income information for self-employed individuals: W9s, 1099s and Schedule K-1s. Report all income, even if you did not receive a 1099 from a client.
  • Income information from investments: 1099s reflecting interest earned, dividends, retirement funds and son on.
  • Proof of income adjustments: 1098s.
  • Receipts: If you are itemizing, they should be added for health expenses, donations and other key categories.

After you have the appropriate papers gathered, either use software like Turbo Tax or take your documents to your tax preparer. To decide whether to do your taxes yourself or get them done by a professional, assess how complicated your tax situation is and go from there. For example, owning a small business or having multiple investments may lead to a more complicated tax preparation that you may not feel up to tackling on your own.

Once you have everything entered and completed, double check for errors. If you do find a mistake, Daily Finance recommends you take pre-emptive action and file a 1040X form. This form will help you avoid penalties, since you took the step to report the error.

After you’ve finished and realized that gathering the papers you needed wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, check this awesome filing system and get a head start on next year!

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