You came, you claimed, you filed. Now what? Instead of kicking back and waiting for that return to process (although that’s part of it!), consider setting yourself up for a successful 2018 filing with a few small but impactful tasks. Additionally, it’s wise to prepare for the event that you get audited – a slim chance but certainly possible. Ponder these tips for staying on top of tax-related duties post tax season and set yourself up for 2019 success.
If you e-filed (our recommendation), look out for a confirmation email that your tax return has been accepted. Bare in mind that this email does not mean everything is correct or the IRS will not further analyze it for inconsistencies or questioning. Track your refund with the IRS’s ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool, by entering your social security number, filing status, and exact amount expected. The refund tracker is updated every day.
Generally speaking, you should keep records for three years. This does not count for documents that relate to what would be considered a fraudulent issue – the IRS can and will contact you about potential fraud on returns more than three years old. Also keep anything related to income for at least six years. The IRS can assess that you did not report taxable income for this long. When it comes to documents for assets, such as your home, it’s recommended you hold on to these for the foreseeable future. Employment tax records and documents relating to debts should be kept for about four to seven years. If you’re weary about destroying documents, always scan and keep a digital record before you consult the shredder.
Now we’re well through 2018 underway, you should keep records as you go. By this time, you may have business expense receipts, charitable donation receipts, proof of payment for estimated taxes, and more. Collect and digitalize these records as you receive them, then organize in folders to save yourself a scramble next year.
We went over the major changes to the tax code as consequence of the passing of tax reform in December. But get to know these updates on a deeper level as they pertain to your financial circumstances. Changes affect everyone, for businesses and individuals. Withholdings, tax brackets, deductions, credits, and expenses will be slightly different. Perhaps your filing won’t alter much, but knowing ahead will prevent any surprises come early 2019.
With updates to the tax code and perhaps changes to your financial situation, it’s always in your best interest to consult a tax professional for recommendations. If you’ve tapped their knowledge for a few years, and you should find one and stick with them (just like a doctor), they will know exactly what will work best for you in terms of credits, deductions, and other claims. A trusted tax professional can not only consult you right before filling, but throughout the year, so you’re not making any financial missteps or missing opportunities.
Your files are organized, your quarterly meetings with your tax consultant are booked, and you’re prepared in case an audit comes your way. For more ways to prepare, consider employing the help of smartphone apps and accounting software, review your withholdings, take a look at your retirement plan, and think about estimated taxes.
Ready for tax year 2018? Everyone has a different financial situation that can vary in complexity year to year, which is why consulting a tax advisor throughout the year is wise. Make that priority number one post tax season, and everything else will fall into place.
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