Six Ways You, Your Company or Non-profit Organization can Prepare for Tax Season in 2015

Few things cause more stress than filing your personal, business or non-profit organization tax return, and even fewer things give more relief than getting your refund check. Spend time planning out your tax return so you can limit your stress and get your refund check as soon as possible. tax_calculator_JFWAccounting

Here are Six Ways You, Your Company or Non-profit Organization can Prepare for Tax Season in 2015:

  1. Gather your family’s personal information. You need to know the social security numbers of everyone claimed on your return. This includes you, your spouse, and all of your children and other dependents. For the fastest refund, know the routing and account numbers for your checking account so that the IRS can directly deposit your money into the bank.
  2. Organize all of your income forms. Depending on the type of work you do and the investments you have, you could receive several different income forms. An employer will send you a W-2 form, but other income, like that received from investments, property sales, or contract work, will be sent to you on one of the many types of 1099 form. The exact income from all of these forms will be reported on your tax return, so keep them all together.
  3. Be meticulous in finding deductions. Don’t pay the government more than required. Spend extra time paying close attention to the types of deductions that you are allowed to take, and claim as many as possible. Child care costs, home business expenses, and large medical bills are examples of possible deductions you can claim. Watch the mail for 1098 forms, which will report interest payments you can deduct. Record any moving expenses, charitable giving, and work related expenses that were not reimbursed by your employer. Even if itemizing your allowed deductions does not exceed the standard deduction, some expenses, like a school teacher’s out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, can be added on top of the standard deduction.
  4. If you need it, pay for advice. The instructions that accompany IRS forms are not going to win awards for clarity and leave many people scratching their heads. Get help if you need it. Hiring someone to prepare your entire tax return is not your only option, though. You can pay tax professionals for advice in how to correctly prepare your own return. Just giving advice takes less of the tax professional’s time, which translates to a lower fee for the service. Save the receipt, because any amount you pay for tax preparation can be used as a deduction for next year’s tax return.
  5. Business Books Reconciliations: Be sure to reconcile your ending cash balance with the checking account balance on your final 2014 bank statement so that you have all of your cash transactions in your accounting records.
  6. Create a Budget for the New Year: Now is the time to do it! You have your income and expenses numbers from last year right in front of you, so all your questions are answered. Sit down with your staff and create a 2015 budget. You will not regret it.

No one can guarantee a stress-free tax season, but these steps will help you prepare for what you’re going to face. It’s the job of the IRS to catch your mistakes and make you pay for them, so the time spent planning ahead and preparing your tax return correctly will always be worth the investment.