Simplify Tax Preparation

simplify tax preparation


Tax season often brings a sense of dread and confusion for many individuals. The myriad of forms, deductions, and deadlines can be overwhelming. With a simple, step-by-step approach to preparation and organization, your task will be less stressful and less time-consuming. Here are some practical tips and strategies to streamline the tax preparation process.

Start planning with a calendar

Tax season is officially in progress. There are two deadlines, the April deadline and the October deadline. If you know yourself to be a procrastinator, set your deadline. That deadline should be earlier rather than later.  Tax forms and information have been coming in since January, so set a deadline of April 1. Reward yourself for getting this done sooner rather than later.

Gather personal information

Create a document you can use each year with basic information, including Social Security numbers and employer information, for each person on your return. Create a folder on your personal computer with this information or have a red folder for this information on paper.

Tax preparation in action

The best way to manage a big project is to manage it in chunks. Tax preparation is best done in multiple steps. In the best case, you can choose two segments for your preparation or you can choose many one-hour time blocks to complete taxes.

  • Write your two (2) time blocks on your calendar to hold the time for this work and give you accountability to do this.
  • Use a checklist from reputable sources or your tax preparer. This way you know the specific information to include. This may include income statements (W-2s, 1099s), investment statements, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, charitable contribution receipts, and any other documentation related to your finances. Create a designated folder or digital file to keep everything in one place, making it easier to access when needed.
  • There are many strategies to work in manageable chunks for tax preparation.
    • Gather your tax documents by category of income or deduction. For income, you might need to access your payroll account online or in your online accounts for retirement, savings, banking, or credit union. For deductions (expenses) you can find these in medical portals, mailed paper statements, and emails.
    • Segment your work by finding documents in the mail and finding documents online.
    • Work on individual categories of deduction one at a time, such as charity or medical.
    • Review your checking accounts, bank statements, and credit card receipts in separate time blocks to gather information.
  • Once you have completed the preparation steps, be ready to answer questions on your documentation and finalize the return. Ensuring correct information keeps your tax return from being delayed.

Shortcuts to make tax preparation easier

This year tax preparation might have been more difficult than you like. Here are some ways to improve your system.

  • Keep track of documents as they arrive. Have one folder to place these documents.
  • Use Genius Scan to document all your paper receipts. This free app helps you create a PDF of any documents and categorize receipts. Creating a digital copy helps you keep track of the document.
  • Automate taxes being withheld to be sure you are paying in an amount that will match what you owe. Use a W-4 form with your employer or pay quarterly estimated taxes each year.
  • Seek assistance. You can utilize tax preparation software, such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct. Bookkeepers and CPAs are an asset in helping you know all the right answers and supporting you as you work on your taxes.
  • Life transitions are happening more than ever. Be sure to keep up with the tax solutions as a result.


By following these steps and utilizing available resources, you can simplify the process of completing your tax return. Give yourself a big reward when your taxes are complete and plan ahead for next year!


How to Impress Your Accountant with Your Tax Preparation

organize your taxes


Tax documents have started to arrive and it’s time for us to organize these pieces of paper or digital information. Even though the filing deadline is still a little ways off, and even though taxes are scary, it’s better to start to get organized now.  What do you need to bring to your tax preparer to be ready to file?  There are specific documents that are required and how you organize these can impress your accountant or bookkeeper and save you money in fees.


Gather your documents

As paper statements arrive in the mail, be sure to place these in a Taxes 2021 folder. Organize this information in paper or digital folders as you collect the documents according to Income and Deductions.


Income documents confirm the money you received during the previous year. These include:

  • W-2 forms (Statement from your employer that includes how much you were paid, deductions for medical and social security.)
  • 1099 forms (Form 1099-Misc for contract work, Form1099-INT for interest, Form 1099-DIV for dividends and Form 1099-B for broker-handled transactions.)
  • Next year income from Venmo and Square will be included.


Documents that help reduce your taxes are known as deductions. You will need to gather the information for this documentation, which may take time. Break this into chunks to make it easier to gather this information.

  • Property taxes paid by you or your escrow account
  • Mortgage interest on Form 1098
  • Charitable donations with receipts from those entities
  • Retirement account contributions up to a set limit. Look for these forms with your January statement
  • Educational expenses which are on a form 1098-T
  • Medical bills if they total more than 7.5% of adjusted gross income for most taxpayers
  • State and local taxes and sales tax which the IRS provides tables with average amounts you can claim.

Credits are similar to deductions.  Currently the primary credit is the Child Tax Credit for each child in your family

Keep a record of the estimated taxes paid for this year. Those are quarterly payments made to adjust for additional income throughout the year. As you pay these electronically or by check, record that date and amount paid.


Shortcuts for tax preparation

There are shortcuts to gather this information.

  • You can also gather this information online in your investment, mortgage, and online appraisal district accounts.
  • Use one check book register each year and record the information as you write the check. Highlight in your favorite color to be sure you see these.
  • Keep all tax papers all year long in a folder marked Taxes 20XX in your command center in the office or kitchen.
  • Scan receipts to a digital folder all year long. Keep this folder on your computer.
  • Take a picture with your smart phone and create a photo album of Tax Receipts 20XX
  • Set appointments with yourself the last weekend of January, February and March to set aside time for tax preparation.
  • Ask your doctors and pharmacy for payment records for the entire year.
  • Partner with another family member as you organize your documentation. Your college and adult kids will need this preparation for their own taxes.
  • Use a tax preparation check list.

Now that you have all the data you need, use file folders for each segment of information.

  • Your information, including name, address and social security numbers
  • Income
  • Deductions
  • Credits
  • Estimated taxes


You are ready to go to your accountant or tax preparer with everything you need and you are guaranteed to impress!

Simplify your tax preparation

simplify your tax preparation


Tax preparation can be more easily managed with a few short cuts. Two of these include finding your paperwork online and itemizing donation receipts all year long.


Online access to tax documents

Access your important documents online.  It makes it easier than waiting for these documents and easier to find rather than sorting through piles and piles of paper.  The key is to know what to find. The documents include 1099s for income and dividend, mortgage interest and other loans expenses paid, and property taxes paid as a deduction.  These are available at your investment company, mortgage provider and from your employer.  You can find these quickly and print these yourself.


Donation receipts

Throughout the year you donate your cast off goods to a variety of charities. Simplify your donation list with these donation price guides. Both guides are accepted values by the IRS for use.

According to the IRS documentation, “you may deduct charitable contributions of money or property made to qualified organizations if you itemize your deductions.”  Itemizing is including a list of the items you donated, as well as their value. The value must be “good” to be an acceptable donation. Qualified items include clothes, household goods, furniture and miscellaneous.


Salvation Army


its deductible



Keep your lists all year long with the donation receipt in your Taxes 20XX year in your files or in your command center.  It is an easy way to break your tax preparation into chunks and make it simpler to be ready to file your taxes.

Get a checklist

Get organized with a checklist. It is the list of what you need and how to find it.

  • This list is available online from H&R Block.
  • This list is available online with a video from Turbotax. 
  • Many tax accountants provide this with your preparation.

A check list makes sure you have all the documents when you file.


Tax season fills us all with a sense of “just one more big thing to do.” Get your taxes ready and filed more easily with small, manageable chunks.



Learn more about making tax preparation easy here!

Learn more on YouTube about your paper processes!