Lessons learned from tax time

Posted on April 16, 2014


lessons learned from tax time
Nobody likes taxes, well except for accountants and CPAs, since this time of year is their bread and butter. As the eternal optimists, I always try to find the positive in every experience, no matter how good or bad the experience is.

I am super organized when it comes to my finances. I know to the penny how much money I have in my checking account. I thank my Dad for teaching me to be responsible money wise. Old habits die hard. When I was just starting out, I didn’t have much money. I never wanted to overdraw my checking account, so I kept it balanced all the time.

I keep meticulous track of my expenses for the tax man. My husband, with a little bit of prodding from me, does the same. Here’s what we give to the accountant for our taxes:

* Detailed spreadsheets showing expense type, amount and mileage.
* Nicely organized piles of key forms, e.g. W2 (wages), 1099’s (interest), etc. Each pile is labeled with a sticky note.

Theoretically all our accountant has to do is to enter the numbers into his tax program, push a button and presto – our tax forms are created.

I also make it a point to give this information to the accountant at least a month before taxes are due. Now the point of this post is not to denigrate our accountant. He’s a cool guy and we have worked with him for years.Β  But we didn’t get our completed tax forms until April 14.Β  I hate leaving things to the last minute.Β  The last thing I wanted to do on April 15 was stand in line at the Post Office waiting to mail a check for the money we owed.

As I was thinking about this experience, I learned some valuable lessons:

* People can’t read your mind. Just because you think something will happen by a certain date, doesn’t mean others think the same way. Be very clear about your intentions.

* Don’t leave anything to chance. Don’t assume that something will get done early just because you gave the information early. I should have given our accountant a specific deadline for when I wanted the taxes done.

* Follow up and follow up and follow up. I should have been calling our accountant a week before April 15.

* Chill out. What’s the worse that could have happened? I now understand that you can pay your taxes online, so I wouldn’t have had to worry about getting to the post office by April 15.

Let’s just hope I remember all this come tax time next year. πŸ™‚

Tax image is courtesy of Cornerstone Policy Research.