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. But we didn’t get our completed tax forms until April 14. I hate leaving things to the last minute. 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. 🙂
Tax image is courtesy of Cornerstone Policy Research.