Whether you like it or not, tax season has started and you’ll soon have to think about filing your income taxes. For many people, filing income taxes is considered a burden because of the associated work with filing or their attitude towards paying taxes all together.
Tax filing requires taking the time to do the work yourself, or visiting a professional to do it. But regardless, it’s going to require some of your time to get organized and go through the filing process. Overall, performing this work is okay because Jesus tells us in Luke 20: 20 – 26 we are to pay our taxes . . . .
Paying Taxes to Caesar
20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
In other words, taxes are a portion of money that belongs to the government and it’s our job as financial stewards to make sure we pay them just as it is our job to give to the Lord’s work. Hopefully, you can have a different outlook on paying taxes this year.
Personally, there are a few things I do each year to try to make sure I’m ready for tax season. Follow these three tips to insure tax season doesn’t create unnecessary anxiety.
3 Tips to Get Ready for Tax Season
1. Estimate Your Taxes
It’s a good idea to use an income tax refund estimator, such as the TaxCaster by the TurboTax makers. Doing so will help you determine how much in federal income taxes you can expect to pay when you file, or how much of a refund you’ll receive. You can use such a calculator a few times per year to make sure you’re not going to be in trouble (owing the IRS) when tax season rolls around. If you want to change how much income tax is withheld, you can adjust your withholding allowances based on the recommendations of the calculator. Increase your allowances to have less taxes withheld from your paycheck.
2. Organize Early for Tax Season
I’m also a big fan of getting organized early for tax season. You’ll be receiving tax forms in the mail from your employer, mortgage lender, and others to use to file your taxes for the current tax year. Do yourself a favor and keep those forms handy by placing them in a file folder. You might even pull your previous year’s income taxes and put them in the folder so you can refer to them when you file or when working with your professional. You might even go as far as separating receipts you’ll be using to file your taxes, such as gifts, in a separate folder. Filing your taxes, or managing your money well, often just requires some good organization and planning.
3. Determine How You’ll File Your Taxes
Finally, will you file your own income taxes, or will you use a professional? I used to not want to try to file myself, but a few years ago, I started using TurboTax online and found it extremely easy to use. This is a great approach if your situation isn’t too completed. If you own a business, or have a unique tax situation, you might consider using a professional. Otherwise, another option you can consider which I used for years is going into a local H&R Block. I’ve had good experiences with them and recommend them for those who would rather not handle filing on their own or try to find a CPA. You can walk-in without an appointment.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when deciding if you’ll file your own taxes:
- Cost: It will cost more to use a professional.
- Time: You might save a little time by sending all your information to a professional or CPA, but it’s still your job to collect the information required.
- Confidence: By all means, if you’re concerned about making a mistake, or just feel more comfortable with a professional, don’t feel like you have to attempt filing your taxes on your own.
Tax season shouldn’t be burden and you can eliminate all the anxiety out of it by being prepared. Take steps to get ready now and don’t wait until the last minute to file!
What tips do you have to plan for income tax season?
Photo by Alan Cleaver
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