Preparing Your 2014 Tax Return

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

The New Year is upon us!  You know what that means…it’s almost tax season!! Find out what you can do to make this tax season painless and worry free.

As much as most people dread filing taxes, it is a necessary evil.  Soon everyone will start receiving all those envelopes marked “Important Tax Information Enclosed”.  While some people are overwhelmed with the prospect of filing taxes, others are eager to get this necessary task behind them.  No matter which group you fall into, it is important to realize that it is better to get everything done sooner rather than later.

Most people know that individual tax returns are due on April 15th.  The Internal Revenue Service (and most states) plans to open the filing season on January 20, 2015. Your employer is required to give you a W-2 by January 31.  And while most other institutions are required to send out their tax documents by January 31, brokerage firms are required to mail or electronically deliver 1099 tax statements by Feb. 15th each year.

So, in effect, tax season extends for just 2 months!  You have about 8 weeks between receiving all your documents and getting the return filed.  Talk about a time crunch!

What can you do to be more efficient and avoid filing an extension?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you own a business or rental property, go ahead and total your receipts, providing your accountant or CPA with an organized summary of your income and expenses.
  • Segregate receipts and/or canceled checks for charitable donations, property taxes, tax estimates paid and other deductible items.
  • Have a system for gathering the tax documents as they are mailed to you – a file folder, a big envelope, a box.  Whatever works for you!
  • Complete the organizer and questionnaire that your tax preparer provides to you early.  You don’t have to wait for your tax documents in order to complete this necessary form.  Beacon’s questionnaire is here.  (Make sure you save it to your computer before you start completing it).
  • When you have most of your documents, go ahead and give them to your tax preparer.  There is no need to wait until you have everything.  Your CPA can go ahead and begin working on your return even if you are missing a few items.  Please note that all Beacon clients have complimentary access to Sharefile, an online portal that allows you to securely upload your confidential documents.
  • Get everything in early!  The earlier the preparation starts, the more time there is to make adjustments and ask questions.

We hope you have a smooth and hassle free tax season!