Editor’s Note: This piece comes courtesy of our partner Manilla.com.
If you haven’t yet filed your tax return this year, don’t worry — there’s still time. But if you didn’t keep all of your tax documents and information organized throughout the year, it may not be super simple when you sit down to file.
Organize your documents throughout the year. It’s not the end of the world if you didn’t keep track of all of your receipts, bills, statements and other documents throughout the year, but it will make your life so much easier if you start doing it now. One way to do this is by using account management service Manilla.com, which is completely free. It’s free, secure and it lets you manage your bills and accounts in one place online. You get automatic reminders when your bills are due, and you get unlimited online document storage forever, for free. That means that Manilla will automatically retrieve your bills and statements for your accounts, so when it’s time to file your tax return, you have everything in one place.
Educate yourself on tax breaks.
What can you write off? What should you write off? What should you avoid writing off? There is a wide range of deductible items, and knowing them will help ensure that you get the largest possible refund back after filing. These deductible items include everything from job-hunting expenses to moving costs to non-cash charitable gifts. What you’re allowed to deduct will depend on your personal situation and experiences, so make sure to do your research or consult a tax professional to learn about what makes sense for you.
Using reliable websites, apps and other tools throughout the year can make tax time a breeze. Use Manilla for your account document storage, and if you’re looking for a free (or cheap) way to file, try using online software. Software such as H&R Block, Turbo Tax, and TaxACT are all easy to use, and they offer free federal returns if you made less than $57,000 last year.
Pay estimated taxes quarterly (if applicable).
If you are a freelance or contract worker and you supplied a W-9 to your employer, that likely means that income tax is not taken out of your paycheck. It’s very important — I repeat, very important — that you take this into account when you are paid. Visit IRS.gov to figure out which tax bracket you’re in, and then make estimated quarterly tax payments. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up having to owe a lot more money come tax time.
Vow to start early.
There’s still time to start early this year! Do your taxes now so that you’re ahead of the game. Or, if you’re planning to wait until the second week of April, vow to start early…next year.