“There are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes.” —Benjamin Franklin
Either the groundhog did or did not see his shadow. I’ve never really understood what the little fat guy in Philadelphia has to do with anything, but to me, the beginning of February marks something more important: time to do my taxes.
I hate doing taxes, really. There are some years where I fantasize about calling an accountant and sending everything her way. But, as much as I hate them, I hate having the fact that they’re not done just hang over my head the entire first part of the year. So, once I get all my tax documents together, it’s time to sit down at the computer and start the process. I use H&R Block, because my information stays in their system from year to year, but you can use whichever software you want. If you don’t have state income tax, go for the free software. But start filing your taxes as soon as possible.
Here are the benefits to starting early:
1.) You’ll have more time to piece through things.
You can enter your information as you get it in the mail. I like this — it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and it’s a little piece of the puzzle that’s already done. You can bookmark things for later, too, if you’re confused about something. Part of my income is through self-employment. I have a lot of bookmarks.
2.) Information is power.
I lived much of my life in a blissfully ignorant place, but having the information at your fingertips is really powerful. You can put it away when you get tired of it, and bring a fresh set of eyes the next day. Look up your questions on Google — ask your friends on Facebook. Find out what you don’t know.
3.) You can check to see if you need to take it to a professional.
Tax accountants are trained professionals. They understand this world a lot better than the rest of us ever will. Get a referral from someone you know. Ask them who they use to do their personal taxes. Don’t trust the people who hire people to dress up like Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty.
4.) If you owe money, you can budget for it.
Let’s say you end up owing money. You don’t have to file just yet — you can wait, and file them in April, once you’ve budgeted for the taxes that are due.
5.) If you get money back, you can have it faster.
This is the big one. If I told you that I would give you $1000 now or $1000 in three months, which would you prefer? I thought so. Get that money back and start making it work for you!
6.) It’ll reduce stress.
You probably don’t even realize how much stress you’re carrying until you finish your taxes and it’s gone. Gone! Poof, just like magic.
7.) You will feel invincible.
It’s funny, really. You finish filing your taxes, and you look at other parts of your life and think, “Now what?” Last year, I filed in March. Then I deep-cleaned my entire apartment, because I knew I could do anything!
8.) It turns you into one of “those people.”
You know those people. The ones who smile smugly when you complain to them that you’re really stressed out about doing your taxes. You can be one of those people!
Really, though, peace of mind + potentially getting money back in February instead of April are all the motivation you need to get a jump on them!
How much are you getting back?
Image by cohdra