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Turtling Through Your Taxes – Feb 18, 2010

Posted by Sue on Feb 20, 2010  

We must care for each other more and tax each other less. ~ Bill Archer

So here we are, nearing the end of February; April 15th is still a misty apparition on the horizon.  And when you’re busy managing the
rest of your life, it’s easy to forget that taxes are due in only 8 weeks.

tortoiseWhat would it be like not to make a mad dash to the 4/15 finish line?  Can you imagine yourself mailing that envelope on April 1st – and NOT as an April Fool’s joke.

At Breathing Space we care most about making space for what really matters to you.  At the same time there are some mundane basics that have to be in place. For most people that includes TAXES.

If you plan to use a tax preparer, schedule NOW! Some preparers charge higher fees the closer it is to April 15th, or are simply
unavailable.  And making that appointment gives you the
motivation for your next step … Scheduling time with yourself to
gather receipts, go through paperwork and gather needed information
- Something you’ll need to do whether you are using a tax preparer
or not.  And don’t wait until April or the day before your scheduled
appointment with your tax preparer:  Allow time for unexpected
glitches, because they always crop up.

Use your first appointment with yourself to create a home for your tax documents.If you don’t already have one, set up an all-year-round tax filing system.  It might seem like closing the
barn door after the horse has run away, but trust me, this is worth
the time and effort.  You’ll thank me next year when you tackle
2010 taxes.

A file cabinet, box or accordion file work great for your taxes’
new home.  Choose a bright color for your files (mine are yellow)
to distinguish them from your other files.  Clearly label each file
folder.  Basic categories may include:  Medical, childcare,
mortgage, work, investments, donations, student loans, credit card
and bank statements.

You’ll also need a checklist of required tax documents, such as
W-2′s, 1099′s and interest statements.  You can get this list from
your tax preparer, by referring to last year’s taxes or by looking
online.  Check out:  www.hrblock.com and search for tax tips.  They
have an individualized checklist that’s great.  Don’t forget
statements from your childcare provider (including Federal ID number) and house of worship, if you made donations in 2009.  Also, you can sign up on your health insurance provider’s websites to access payments.

Remember to divide and conquer: Work in small chunks of time, or
tackle it room by room or drawer by drawer.  Don’t be afraid to ask
for help.  One client related how she showed her 10 year old
daughter what to look for (her receipts were crammed in the junk
drawer along with gum wrappers, pencil stubs and twisted
paperclips) and then gave her a nickel for every receipt she found.
Happy daughter, happy mom!

Put on some lively music as you dissect your wallet and rout
through your glove compartment – It’ll make time fly.  As you
uncover receipts and paperwork, ask yourself, “What is it?  Do I
need to keep it?  In what category does it belong?”  Make sure you
create an, “I don’t know” file for items that need further
research.  Then, FILE IT in its own, brightly colored file folder
and CHECK IT OFF on your list!

With your receipts in order, ready to grab and process when you
need them, you’re halfway home to completing your taxes.  And the
most onerous part of the job (more most folks) is behind you.

When it comes to preparing our taxes, we need to learn from the
turtle:  Slow and steady crosses the finish line with shell intact.
But slow and steady only works if you start early.  So, pull out
your calendar and make that first tax-preparation date!

Share your favorite  tax strategies  on our blog and

Happy Turtling!

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