Four Steps to Knocking Out Your Taxes Quickly
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sitting across the table from my wife at a local steakhouse Friday night, she had a kind of look in her eye. She had something on her mind, and it was only a matter of time before she said it.
â€œThis is the weekend. We’re getting our taxes done,â€ she blurted out calmly but firmly.
I couldn’t disagree with her. She had been asking me to get them done for weeks, but I had been procrastinating. We have our withholdings set such that we’ll break even at best, but likely owe a little bit. The amount won’t be anything to be concerned about, but since I know that’s our situation I didn’t feel any hurry to sit down with W-2s, mortgage interest statements, and 1099s. But, we didn’t have anything going on so it was time to bite the bullet and follow my 4 step process to do my taxes.
Step One: Gather Office Materials
- Manilla Envelope to hold all the documentation once finished
- Extra printer ink since I knew I was low
- Download tax preparation software (I use H&R Block)
Step Two: Gather Needed Documentation:
I wrote â€œ2014 Taxesâ€ on the manilla envelope, as well as an itemized list of each document required, putting a big check mark next to each item as I collected it.
- My W2
- My wife’s W2
- 1099-Misc from freelance writing
- Mortgage Interest Statement
- Real Estate tax statement
- Car Registration statement
- Charitable Contribution statements
Step Three: Do it!
Once the first two steps are done, and the software is installed, actually doing our taxes doesn’t take more than 20 minutes. Our finances aren’t very complicated, and the tax preparation software couldn’t make it any easier.
After I made it through both the federal and state returns, I e-filed my taxes. I was on the home stretch now, and could see the finish line!
Step Four: Print and Save
I like to have my tax information saved away in both soft copy on my computer, as well as printed out copies in my fire proof safe:
- Create a folder on my computer named â€œ2014 Taxesâ€
- Put my H&R Block Tax return file into the folder
- Print my taxes into PDF format and put it into the folder
- Scan all documents into PDF format and put into the folder
- All documentation goes into my big manilla envelope
- Print off Federal and State tax returns and put in envelope
- Put envelope into fire proof safe
From start to finish the process took just a little over three hours, including the trip to Walmart to get the office supplies. It wasn’t exciting, it certainly wasn’t fun, but It had to be done and it went smoothly thanks to the process I’ve used for years.
Do you have a set process you use year after year to do your taxes? Have you completed your taxes yet this year?
Brock is a software engineer by day and personal finance blogger at night. He is a fitness junkie and enjoys grilling and smoking meat. Married with two children, Brock strives to improve his skills as a husband and father, and is always on the lookout to stretch his family’s budget as far as he can.