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Tax season is actually a time of year that I don’t really dread. Wait, what? Did I just say that?! Yep, as a financial geek and former tax professional I actually look forward to tax season every year.
But it wasn’t always this way.
The main reason is because I prepare my finances throughout the year, so I have a pretty accurate picture of how my taxes are going to look. That way I don’t have to worry or dread it when the time comes. How do I do it?
I use a few different but simple methods to keep my money organized and on track. By making a few small changes and applying one of these simple tips, you too might actually look forward to getting your taxes done!
1. Maximize your refund with mobile apps
One of my all-time favorite ways to maximize my time and money is to use digital tools and software. Many of the programs out there will do the work for you!
And as humans we are prone to forgetfulness, mistakes and procrastination, but with the help of apps, tools and other financial programs, it’s easy to maximize your refund without much effort.
There are apps available to help you track your income so you don’t overpay on taxes, snap photos of your receipts so you don’t miss a single deduction and tools that help you calculate how much your tax refund will be — down to the dollar.
Some of my favorite mobile tax apps include:
- FreshBooks Cloud Accounting app
- H&R Block Tax Prep app
- QuickBooks Self-Employed app
- TurboTax app
- TaxAct mobile app
And don’t forget, if you don’t think you’re getting the maximum refund or you have a feeling your taxes could have been done better, it’s definitely okay (and encouraged) to find a second opinion. After all, it’s your hard-earned money, you want to make the most of it.
2. Find a pro who specializes in what you need
When I first started working as a tax professional, I noticed I really liked helping small business owners and entrepreneurs file their taxes. I’m very passionate about empowering small business owners (even if it’s a business of one) grow – without debt – while taking the headache out of tax time.
I remember one tax return specifically, for a super talented hair stylist. She made good money, but between the cost of rent for her space and paying for her kid’s daycare, she was left with hardly any profit.
After a few minutes asking her questions and understanding her frustrations, we worked out a plan for her to negotiate a better deal with the salon owner – one that helped her work less, and increase the revenue she brings into the shop.
This left her more time to be with her kids, and saved her money on daycare expenses – all while giving the salon owner a good deal of revenue too. It was a win-win!
That’s when I knew I had a knack for helping professionals, small business owners and freelancers!
Find a professional who specializes in your area of expertise by checking out the Internal Revenue Service directory to find a professional with the best credentials. They can offer valuable and custom advice that’s perfect for your situation.
This is why I strongly recommend finding a tax professional, career advocate or support group that focuses on what you need help with. When you find a pro that is an expert in your niche, you just can’t lose!
3. Get your refund faster with direct deposit
Nothing is more exciting than finding out you’re getting a tax refund! On the flip side, nothing is more frustrating than realizing your refund got lost in the mail or somehow got misplaced.
If you want to get your refund faster, so you can pay for your business and personal expenses, the best way to do that is to request direct deposit into your bank account or with a Visa Prepaid card from the IRS website.
This method is ideal for loading your tax refund, because it deposits your refund into your account or your card instantly, which is much faster than waiting for a check in the mail.
Many prepaid cards come with a zero liability policy so your tax refund is safe, even if your card is lost or stolen. This gives you instant access to your funds, so you can pay your bills, continue to grow your business or even buy something nice for yourself!
That’s definitely not something that can be said about a check sent via snail mail!
4. Stay organized throughout the year
As I mentioned, one of the biggest reason I don’t dread tax season every year is that I spend a little time over a period of weeks or months, to stay organized and keep my finances under control. No, I didn’t learn how to do that overnight and it took me a few years to finally get the hang of things.
But spending a little time here and there, is a whole lot better than spending hours and even days, trying to get your taxes in order (or paying an accountant a huge amount of money to do it for you).
As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, it’s important to not only save money, but to know all the ins-and-outs of how your business works. And nothing is more vital than having a pulse on your finances.
So do yourself and your business a favor by creating a simple system, whether that’s through the use of a digital tool, bookkeeping software or a notebook, that will help you make sense of your financial transactions in a quick and easy manner.
5. Do the best you can, then get a second opinion
You may not believe me when I say this but the individuals who work at the IRS are people too. SHOCKING, I know!
But seriously, if you make a mistake you can plead your case to them. I’ve seen many occasions where fees and penalties were waived because the taxpayer explained the situation.
Once you feel like you’ve done the best you can to organize and file your taxes, consider having a second review. Getting a second opinion from an expert or friend can’t hurt. Most of the time, they’ll be able to help you find more tax deductions or point out important credits you may have missed.
Then once tax time rolls around, you might actually look forward to it!