The funny thing about telling people not to panic is that this is then inevitably the first thing they do. Telling people not to panic indicates there is something to panic about.
So this year, it’s ok to panic.
Why? Well, you’ve procrastinated once again and tax time is here. The time to relax and chill is over, it’s time to get your taxes done!
I’m half-joking, but the reality is the government doesn’t care how stressed you are. So no matter what state you’re in - utter contentment or full-blown hysteria, here are a few tips to finish your taxes off for another year.
1. Get Organized
I’ve found the best way to get started is to build an organized work space first and foremost. You’re going to have a million different numbers in your head, so clear your mental and physical space and collect all the documents you’ll need to get this done.
From your T4 to your mortgage statements to your credit card bills, it’s handy to have everything ready to go.
2. Big Ticket Items
Speaking of mortgages, now that you’re on a roll, make sure you don’t forget about your most expensive tax deductions. These big money items will save you the most on your final return, so take care of them first.
For most people, the interest they paid on their mortgage will be the biggest deduction. Property taxes you’ve already paid (hopefully) will be up there too.
3. Consistent Expenses
From there you can start working your way down the list from big expenses to medium and small. The key here is to recognize that just because an expense didn’t count for much as a one-off, consistent expenses will shock you with how much they can add up.
Consistent expenses like gas, strata fees, phone bills, and anything else that leaves your bank account on a monthly basis are easy to spot in your statements.
4. Be Scam Vigilant
Switching gears for a little bit, there’s another potential threat at this time of year we all need to watch for. I received a text message this morning telling me to follow a link to complete my tax return, which, to me, (someone who spends a lot of time on his phone and online) was a pretty lame attempt at a scam.
But sometimes these things catch people off guard. Particularly those who have no prior reason not to trust this type of scam. Picture one of your grandparents receiving a message like this one telling them they owed money and needed to pay up right away.
5. Get It Done
Finally, there’s no state of mind quite the same as last minute panic. It’s unfortunate that we procrastinate, but we all do it. So recognize that fact, roll up your sleeves, and get your taxes done.
Who knows, maybe a little panic this year will remind you to do your taxes early next year!
… or maybe not.