Putting off things we don’t love to do is human nature. I usually put off my laundry until I have no clothes left to wear and you may have put off your taxes until the filing deadline. It happens! If that’s you, I’m sharing three things you can do to make the situation less stressful.
So you waited until the last minute to do your taxes? Here is what you need to do.
Don’t start using a new bookkeeping software.
This is not the time to learn a new bookkeeping software and try to do all of your bookkeeping for the previous year. That’s a guaranteed plan for tears and probably a lot of wine. Instead, open up a blank spreadsheet and dump all your income and expenses into it. The spreadsheet doesn’t have to be super fancy. It just needs to have all your income totalled up, and all of the expenses totalled up by category. If you’re not sure what category something goes in, make one up! For example, if you’ve paid fees to be a vendor at a bridal fair, create a category called “Bridal Fair Fees.” Creating categories for your expenses might feel weird, but remember: the IRS cares less about what something is called, and more about people over reporting their expenses and not having proof of them (receipts).
Put all your tax docs in one folder.
Don’t let your tax documents float around your home. As soon as a tax document arrives in the mail, stick it in a designated folder. When you go to do your taxes, you’ll have everything in one place. There may also be forms that you’ll need to go online to download. This is common for Health Savings Accounts, student loan interest, brokerage statements and even W-2s from your employer. Either print these out and stick them in your folder, or create a folder on your computer and save the PDF forms there.
If all else fails, consider filing an extension.
If it’s just not possible to get your taxes filed by April 15, you always have the option to file for an extension. Keep in mind, this extension isn’t an extension of time to pay your taxes, just an extension of time to file the forms. This means, if you can get as much info as possible into the tax software to get an estimate of what you’ll owe, do it. To file the extension, you’ll use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This form is available on IRS.gov or through most online tax filing softwares. You’ll have the option to pay in an any amount you want with the extension. To avoid being charged underpayment penalties and interest, it’s better to send in a little extra, if you can. Any overpayments will be paid back to you in the form of a tax refund.
If you’ve found yourself filing your taxes last minute, hopefully these tips will help take some of the stress out of the situation. Once they’re filed, go treat yourself to celebrate not having to worry about them for another year!