Monday, January 20, 2014

Tax Prep

I have been doing my own taxes since I had my first job at sixteen. I had to use paper forms, instructions and a pencil. I think I may have lucked out and been able to do the EZ form a couple times, but at some point I switched because of investment income. At least that is my memory...I could be wrong.

This time of year, I start keeping my eyes open for available tax forms in the mail, or notifications of availability by email. For those that arrive on physical paper, I have a file labeled 2013 Taxes (original I know). I also have a folder on my laptop with the same label, where I download donation receipts and tax forms. Both of these files were likely started sometime in 2013. Ideally, I should have started it right at the beginning of the year. It just doesn't always happen. In fact, I don't yet have a 2014 file.

I will admit I am a little partial to my physical folder. I usually write on the inside of the file folder a checklist of documents needed for filing. Once I have all of them in hand, I know I can start our taxes without much delay. My list this year includes the following:
  • My husband's W2
  • 1099 - INT from all banks we earn interest from
  • 1099 - R (for a rollover of IRA money...will not be taxable)
  • 1098 from mortgage company with interest and real estate taxes paid
  • Donation receipts
  • Vehicle property tax amount
This may be the first year where we do not itemize, but I won't know for sure until  I start adding up the variables. The last estimate I did was at the end of December, which indicated that we would not have enough to itemize, and would owe about $400. If we don't itemize, I don't need the last three items on my list. That does make it easier!

My intention is to file online, as I have been doing for many years now. It makes it so least if the software is set up correctly. I've had at least two years where I have had to switch companies before filing because their software didn't do the calculations correctly. That sure doesn't give me faith to try them again in the future. I hope to have our return completed by the end of the week, as I am expecting I will have all the documents I need at that point. If we owe, I will not be too quick to send in our money early!

Do you have a system in place for getting your taxes ready for filing? Do you file your own taxes? Anyone still file by snail mail? Come back tomorrow, and I'll write up a few tips for finding low cost or free tax filing software. 


  1. I do the same thing as you! I have a file next to my home desk for the current tax year, and I pop in anything tax-related. Right now it's full waiting for me to do the 2013 taxes. It has anything medical, our credit card summaries, bank statements, W2's, K1, donations forms from goodwill... I have also done my own taxes since I was 16! It got gradually more complicated, but it was gradual enough that I could keep up. I use Turbo Tax, and I always check to make sure it calculated it properly; which companies did you use that didn't calc it right? That's scary!

  2. Turbo Tax was one that didn't calculate non taxable combat pay for EIC one year. It helps to know the laws and how they are calculated. If you do, it is pretty easy to catch if they get it wrong.


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