When I was in college, I never pulled an all-nighter. (Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised at that confession.) I knew I wouldn’t do my best work at the last minute, and I didn’t want the stress of having to produce stellar work under tight deadlines. (Funny that I became a daily newspaper reporter, eh?)
I bring the same thinking to tax preparation. Though the deadline for filing taxes is two months from today, I’m in the thick of organizing my paperwork. I’ve been spending about an hour a week on taxes for the past few weeks, and it hasn’t hurt at all.
When statements began filling my mailbox in mid-January, I dropped them into a large box set aside solely for tax-related paperwork. I knew that all the documents I’d need for my 2011 return would be in one place. I added the tax-prep forms from my accountant, my mileage records and the 1099s, W-2 forms and 1099-INT forms.
Then I sorted them into piles of like items, which meant all my organizing business paperwork was in one stack and all my investment dividend records were in another.
I also am keeping a running list of items I still need to gather for my accountant. I’ll be meeting with her in mid-March, so that’s my deadline for completing my end of the tax paperwork. As in college, it feels great to be done early and know that I’ve done a thorough job.
On Monday I met with the teen I mentor and, over lunch at Red Robin, we completed her state and federal tax returns. It wasn’t hard at all–her only tax documents were two W-2s from her parttime jobs–and she even scored a refund. Submitting her paperwork now will help her get her refund earlier and let her cross this item off her big mental to-do list.
If you haven’t started on your taxes yet, take advantage of the holiday weekend and commit to spending just one hour on this task. Even if that’s all you do, you’ll still be ahead of the game in April.