Gather your receipts, utter some incantations to the Quicken gods, and light aflame a sacrificial 1040. It’s tax time, people.
Do: Get a good accountant.
In life, you need a good accountant, a good lawyer, and a good dentist. Everything else really can come and go. Even if you think your returns are pretty easy, it’s worth it to have a professional help you out. Doctor bills, mortgage interest, work-sponsored retirement accounts (so I’ve heard) all can affect how much you have to pay.
Don’t: Throw all your receipts away.
I feed my OCD by keeping every receipt for everything I’ve ever bought. Paid cash for a sandwich? I got that receipt. Do I need that receipt? No, that’s insane (hi, therapist!). But it does get me in the habit of tucking every single slip of paper into my purse so when I sort them I’ve got at least everything I need. Also? Having a printed piece of paper from a third party with a date, time, and location is very handy if you ever need an alibi.
Do: Butter up your accountant.
Send your accountant a bottle of wine and a basket of chocolates around March 1. This will a) make their lives much nicer during a busy, stressful season, and b) make them hate you a tiny bit less when you turn in all of your paperwork 8 days before the filing deadline.
Don’t: Trust in the bookkeeping fairy.
Just because you keep all your receipts and stuff them in an empty beer box doesn’t mean they will somehow get straightened out all by themselves. Unless they’re possessed. (Don’t scoff: my credit card crawls on the ground and growls whenever I try to negotiate a lower interest rate.) Keep everything, record everything, then file everything AS IT HAPPENS.
Don’t: Wait until December 31 for purchases.
If there is any kind of delay your new copier/printer/scanner/lunch maker won’t be justifiable under “we can deduct it under this year’s taxes.” You’ll have to deduct it on next year’s taxes. And let’s face it: if you were any good at planning ahead you wouldn’t be scrounging for last-minute purchases on the last day of the calendar year.
Do: Keep legit.
Unless your business is ski-jet rentals, you really can’t claim ski-jet payments. This is where an honest and patient accountant comes in very handy. It’s their job to hold your hand if you ever get audited, so they’re always going to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Don’t: Bail on your tax bill.
Before you waste time researching which countries we do not have extradition agreements with (Venezuela), remember Ben Franklin’s wise words: “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” You have to pay your taxes and that’s all there is to it. Even if you can’t pay your tax bill right away the IRS has payment plans. It’s all going to work out. Take a deep breath and call your accountant.
So tell me, are you done with your taxes?