Get Ready for Next Year’s Taxes Now

Posted on: May 28, 2015

Are you still dealing with drama from the 2015 tax season? If the fallout has you in a funk, don’t let it happen next year—start preparing for 2016 now!

Why subject yourself to the stress of scrambling around trying to find receipts, numbers, and other documents? Learn how to get uber-organized way in advance of January 2016.

Tax Prep Checklist

  1. Go over last year’s filing and note every item you were asked for or needed to complete your forms. Items like these are often overlooked:
    • Tax ID numbers for childcare providers and summer camps. If you use any kind of childcare, you’ll need these numbers to record expenses that may qualify you for a tax credit. Keep track of the total you spend on childcare too—if you pay online or in cash you may not have paper receipts, so make your own record that you can refer back on.
    • Car purchase information. In some cases, buying a new car can get you a little tax relief. Keep the bill of sale and other purchase info handy.
    • Medical and dental bills. Keep every record of every family member’s expenses—they may help you qualify for a deduction (if you didn’t use pre-tax money, like from a flexible spending account).
  2. If you usually stash your previous years’ tax filings away, stop and keep the most recent year’s forms with the records you’re holding onto for the current year. This will help you when filling out your 2016 forms.

Keep Records for These Unusual Deductions

  • Gambling losses – Yes, you can claim them up to the amount of your winnings.
  • Work uniforms – If you can’t wear your work uniforms anywhere else but work, you may be able to deduct their cost.
  • Weight loss program expenses – If you are enrolled in a weight loss program to treat a disease diagnosed by your doctor (obesity, hypertension, heart disease), you may be able to deduct the expense.

Check with your tax professional before attempting these deductions!

What You Can Shred After Your Taxes Are Filed

  • Bank statements – Your bank keeps these in their virtual vault, so you can destroy the paper copies.
  • Investment statements – Keep the year-end statement and get rid of the monthlies.
  • Loan interest statements – Your loan provider should have all of your payment info accessible to you online, so again, you can keep the year-end tax info on file and ditch the rest.
  • Pay stubs – Unless you find inconsistencies with your W-2, you can shred your paycheck stubs post-tax filing.
  • Receipts – You no longer need paper copies but keeping receipts in digital form is a good idea in case you are ever audited by the IRS.

Got shredding? Call us for one-time document destruction done onsite at your location or bring your files to our next community shred event.

And finally…if you didn’t have a positive experience with your tax preparer last year or you are concerned that you don’t have the chops (or the energy!) to do your own taxes, start looking for a new tax professional now, before you are stressing about the 2016 deadline.

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