(BPT) - Doing your taxes is not on anyone's list of favorite activities, but the good news is, there are things you can do to prepare for tax day that can help make the process a little more efficient. Whether you're getting ready to do your own personal taxes or helping a family member to do theirs, here are some tips and tools you can use to help make preparing them go more smoothly.
1. Get comfortable
Nothing's worse than doing a potentially stressful activity when you're physically uncomfortable. Whether you're using a home office or the kitchen table, make sure to clear your work area of anything that's not tax related before getting started. Whatever space you're using, make sure the height of your chair is appropriate for working over an extended period of time. Use pillows or cushions if needed to make sure you're as comfortable as possible.
2. Get your docs in a row
By now you probably know what kinds of documents you'll need, including, but not limited to, W-2s and 1099s for employment, plus any papers related to things like homeownership, medical expenses, your kids' college tuition or charitable donations, etc. Gather everything you think you'll need, then organize all your papers so you won't have to go sifting through the entire pile at every stage of tax preparation. Use stackable open trays or a vertical slat desktop paper organizer to assemble your paper documents by category, either alphabetically or in an order that makes sense to you - and label each tray or slot so you'll know where to find everything throughout the process. Make sure to retain your records after tax season, either physically or electronically.
3. Use tools you know how to use
This may not be the best time to break out a new PC or laptop or to borrow someone else's to help you in connection with preparing your taxes - unless your old one is broken. Using a computer that you're already familiar with can help reduce your stress levels. Likewise, use the kind of calculator that's easiest for you, whether it's on your phone, your computer or an old-school stand-alone calculator.
4. Get help if you need it
If you run into roadblocks while you're preparing, you can refer to your returns from previous years to help simplify things - a lot of the data may be the same. The IRS offers free online resources to help qualified individuals prepare their tax returns. The agency also has videos on YouTube to help taxpayers. Don't be afraid to ask for help and call an accountant when needed. Make sure to also be informed of any deadlines and work toward those.
5. Scan and store your documents digitally
One tool to help you organize your documents is a good scanner, like Canon's imageFORMULA R10 Personal Document Scanner. It's easy to set up and connects to your compatible PC or Mac with a supplied USB cable. This smaller-sized scanner makes it easy to take with you from place to place so you can prepare your taxes wherever you want. But don't let its size fool you - the imageFORMULA R10 scanner produces high-quality images, and can scan letter-sized paper, receipts, business cards, plastic cards and legal-sized documents.
If you're doing someone else's taxes (or they're doing yours), you can easily scan paper documents into electronic files so that you can email them rather than having to carry papers back and forth, helping to put yourself at less risk for damage or loss of physical copies of documents. You can also use the scanner to scan documents so that you can save them to your PC, so that you can archive the statements and forms that go into putting your return together digitally, rather than saving paper files. That way you can store your documents electronically where you can find it if the need arises. Plus you'll have a new lightweight travel companion that can help you keep organized even after the stress of tax season is over!
Visit usa.canon.com to learn more about the imageFORMULA R10 Personal Document Scanner.