Every year millions of Americans have to file their tax return in order to make sure that they have paid the proper amount of tax to the government. The last date you can file your 2009 taxes without risk of any late penalties is Thursday April 15, 2010.
If you are filing electronically then the return has to be filed by April 15, 2010. If you are sending your tax return by mail then the postmark date cannot be later than April 15, 2010.
For some people this might be a happy time, especially if they are expecting a large tax refund. For others, it might be a bad time if they owe money at tax time. Regardless of your situation, preparing and organizing your tax paperwork and then completing your tax return can be a lot of work.
In order to avoid late tax payment penalties it is important to start your tax preparation early. Right now would be a great time to start preparing.
Here are a few suggestions to help with the tax filing process
1) Assemble all your tax paperwork into one place.
This can sometimes be the hardest step. The best way to handle this is to organize some sort of system for your tax paperwork ahead of time and then file each document when you receive it. You also have to know which paperwork you will be receiving so that you don’t get any surprises after you have filed your taxes.
2) Organize your paperwork into envelopes.
Arrange your paperwork so that different types of paper work are in the same envelopes ie all the income statements should be together, all the business expenses (if applicable) should be in another envelope etc. Some suggestions on organizing your tax paperwork.
3) Complete the tax return yourself or hire an accountant else to do it.
Completing the return yourself can be time consuming and frustrating and increases the possibility of errors but on the other hand it is cheaper, a good learning experience and it can really help you understand your finances better. You have to realize that hiring someone to do your return doesn’t mean they will find and organize all your paperwork. You will still have to do some work.
4) Tax software or by hand?
If you are doing the return yourself will you be using tax software or doing it by hand? Using tax software can be a godsend if you aren’t all that familiar with tax rules. It can be much quicker to use a good tax return software rather than doing it by paper. Of course not everyone is comfortable with using software so it might not be the best option for everyone. Cost is a factor as well.
I strongly recommend looking into tax software. Many of them have free trials or money back guarantees so you can test them out and make sure they are right for you.
5) If you prepare your return using tax software will you then file electronically or print it out and mail the return? This is a no brainer to me. I can’t understand why anyone would mail a return that was created by tax software unless maybe they are worried about security. Efiling is easy and cheap. Just do it!