It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s TAX SEASON!!
Here are some of the emotions associated with tax season: stress, confusion, stress, anticipation (of a good refund), stress, disappointment (when your refund isn’t what you hoped it would be), and stress!

Ok, maybe tax season isn’t THAT bad, but it doesn’t have to be bad at all!  With a couple of easy steps and just a hint of preparation before the middle of April, you can breeze through your taxes, and maximize your return!  The system works!

Also, remember that in 2018, the tax deadline is April 17th, because the 15th is a Sunday, and the 16th is Emancipation Day.

Step 1:  Have Those Important Forms Ready

Are you self-employed?  There’s a form for that.  Do you still owe on loans?  There’s a form for that! Here are all the forms that include income information that you might need.  You should have all of these that apply ready and available when filing.  (via USA Today)

  • Form W-2 (wages)
  • W-2G (gambling winnings)
  • 1099-INT (interest)
  • 1099-DIV (dividends)
  • 1099-B (investment sales)
  • Combined 1099 (brokerage combined tax statement)
  • 1099-MISC (independent contractor work, royalties)
  • 1099-R (retirement distributions)
  • K-1 (MLP, Partnership or S-Corp share of income)
  • SSA-1099 (Social Security benefits)
  • 1099-G (unemployment benefits and state tax returns)
  • 1099-C (forgiven debt)
  • Income Adjustment Documents, including Form 1098-E (student loan interest); 5498 (IRA contributions); 5498-SA (HSA/MSA contributions); and 1098-T (tuition)

Step 2:  Tidy Tax Records Mean a Tidy Tax Return!

This is just a general housekeeping rule; keep your tax information organized in folders and readily accessible!  There’s a lot of documentation that goes into filing, and having it ready can simplify so much of the process, and ensure no mistakes that could lead to owing more.

This can be as easy as keeping all tax info in one designated folder and making sure that folder is somewhere you won’t forget it.  Simple enough, right?  Most tax documents are even notated with some variation of “Important Tax Document”, so you know what to hold on to.  You can also include a list of all the important documents that you know you’ll need going into filing time, and cross off each one as you get it. Easy!

Step 2.5:  Don’t forget state taxes!

Are you an Affiliated Bank customer living in Texas?  Then you don’t need to worry about this part!  If you are an Affiliated Bank customer who lives outside of Texas, you will need to know if you are required to file a state return.  Remember, the states (except AK, FL, NV, SD, TX, WA and WY) require a separate filing from your federal tax return!

Step 3:  Don’t Wait Until April 17th!

This one should be a given, don’t wait until the last minute to file your taxes, but there are some benefits to getting your return in as early as possible; not the least of which is getting your refund sooner.  You are also doing your part to prevent identity theft by scammers who file under other peoples’ name and social security number to get their refund.  Don’t give them the chance!

Legally, you should have received all necessary tax documents on January 31st at the very latest, so once you have everything, don’t wait!

Step 4:  Don’t Dump Everything on April 18th!

It’s important to hold on to your tax documents for at least three years after filing, at the very least, with most experts actually recommending maintaining those records for SEVEN years.  Whatever you decide, just be sure that you’re intentional with what you do after filing.  Make sure that you have everything easy-to-access, just in case a mistake is made.

Ok, you’re ready.  Get to filing and get that refund!