Want Less Stress at Tax Time? Do This!

Are you one of those people who lose sleep at night, suffer anxiety and, generally, feel miserable when it is time to file your individual income tax returns? One of the best methods of experiencing a better way of life is to take charge of the activity. Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate on this important task and create stress in your life.

By performing the following three steps, you will find the upcoming filing season to be less of a burden and, dare I say, even enjoyable. First, start collecting your tax reporting information before January 1, 2020. Gather all receipts, bank statements, investment statements, paystubs, etc. that may be required for the complete and accurate filing of your returns. Organize the expense receipts by topic and total the topics to make it easier for you (or your paid preparer) to complete your filings. We recommend performing this same procedure each month. You will find the process takes very little time and saves a tremendous amount of stress when January rolls around.

The second step is to review your investment statements to see if any of your positions should be sold to capture losses and offset your investment gains. This is the process for accounts that are not IRAs known as nonqualified accounts. The act of reviewing your accounts to perform this task is known as tax harvesting. Your goal is to simply sell enough positions with losses to allow you to sell an equal amount of positions with gains and no tax effect. As a side note, this would be a great time of year to review your retirement plans and other holdings with a Certified Financial Planner practitioner to confirm you are on track with your goals.

This third step is very helpful to reduce your taxable income. Review your itemized deductions for 2019 thus far. If you are needing additional deductions, you should consider charitable contributions, payment of your state income tax estimated tax payment, donation of non-cash goods to a qualified charity and other means of accelerating deductions into 2019. With the changes in standard deduction because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it may be beneficial to “bunch” deductions every other year to allow yourself a larger deduction on your returns. 

As a bonus, contact your tax preparer and inform them that you are bringing your information to them earlier this tax season. If you want to make them smile, tell them you have burned the paper sack you usually bring and will be dropping off an organized list of income, deductions and other pertinent information.

For additional, free information about preparing for your tax preparation appointment, go to the Compass Capital Management Website. You will find a wealth of information to help you navigate life!

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