September 24, 2012

Does the name Uncle Sam make you cower in fear of filing next year’s taxes? Though you probably want to put taxes out of your mind until the calendar year has changed, you’ll keep next season’s stress levels down by getting organized early.

Just as regular teeth cleanings make your dental checkups less painful, checking in on your finances throughout the year can minimize the tax-time pain too. See five ways to create a less stressful tax season in 2013.

1. Double-Check Your W-4

If you owed taxes this year or received a huge refund, chances are your W-4 withholding amounts are off. Pay a visit to your company’s human resources department and find out if you should fill out a new form with more accurate information.

2. Archive Your Old Tax Returns

Unfortunately, previous years’ tax returns should not be treated with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. Archive these documents so they are readily available should you need to reference them, but keep them separate from anything that has to do with the current year’s taxes.

3. Create New Files

Instead of throwing all of your receipts and documents in the same envelope, create a filing system for the current year’s taxes. It just takes a Sharpie and a couple of folders to get organized.

4. Hold On to the Important Information

There are important documents besides the W-2 you’ll get from your employer next year and any 1099 statements from your investments. Make sure you hold on to anything pertaining to the following expenses so you don’t have to dig up duplicates later: job-related moving costs, property taxes, donations, medical bills, childcare, and mortgage interest payments.

5. Save a Date!

Commit to a date on next year’s calendar, like some time in February when you’ll have received most if not all of your tax-related forms.