Tax season is officially here. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get prepared. Whether you meet with a tax professional or prepare your taxes yourself, proper planning helps the processes go more smoothly and may reduce the risk of costly errors. Check out the tips below and prepare to tackle this tax season with confidence.
To-Do #1: Gather All of Your Forms
Beginning in January, you’ll likely start to receive the forms you need to properly complete your tax return. If you are expecting a large refund, you will want to make a list so you don’t forget anything that could affect it. Once you receive your documents, first give them a scan to make sure they are correct and contact the sender if there are any discrepancies. Remember, even a simple misspelling can cause a flag on your tax return. Inspect all of your documents carefully.
Some of the forms you will need to look out for include the following:
- W-2s from your job
- SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits
- 1099s for additional income, interest, gains and losses
- 1095-A for government marketplace health coverage
- 1098s for reporting interest and tuition payments
- W-2Gs for any gambling winnings
- Schedule K-1s for company ownership
To-Do #2: Round Up Your Receipts
If you have your own business or plan to itemize your deductions, you will need to record expenses so that you can take advantage of any available write-offs. Gather all the receipts for business expenses, medical expenses, and other expenses that can be listed on your Schedule A or Schedule C. Receipts can be physical receipts or bank and credit card statements that show payments for these items. Once you’ve gathered them, organize them by type so that they are easy to find when you begin filing.
To-Do #3: Acquire Records of All Charitable Contributions
Throughout the year, you may have made donations to tax-exempt organizations. These donations can provide you with charitable contribution write-offs, which typically require itemized deductions and documentation. Most organizations, from churches to fundraisers, can provide a record of your tax-deductible contributions.
To-Do #4: Create a List of All Personal Information
While you likely know your Social Security number by heart, you will want to jot down the Social Security numbers of any dependents you wish to claim. This way, they are easy to access, and you can be sure they’re accurate. Also, make a list of addresses for any properties you own, as well as the dates on which they were bought or sold.
To-Do #5: Get a Copy of Last Year’s Tax Return
If you are using the same preparer as the previous year, they should have a copy of your tax return. If not, find your old copy and have it ready with your other tax items. Being able to reference your previous return can help you see what you filed last year, so you don’t overlook something this year.
To-Do #6: Make 2023 The Year You Start Proactive Tax Planning
For many people in retirement, their largest expense may well be their tax bill. Talking and thinking about taxes is not an enjoyable time for anyone but if you commit to year around proactive tax planning with your financial advisor you may find that you can sand the rough edges off of your tax bill. Just about every choice you make in retirement has an impact on your taxes in one way or another so you may as well make sure you are thinking about the tax impact before you make those choices.
You should get your advisor a copy of your completed tax return each year so they can know exactly how each recommendation will increase or decrease the amount you owe Uncle Sam.
Don’t let tax planning leave you feeling overwhelmed. Done properly, you can pay the IRS all that you owe, but you don't have to leave them a tip!!