At CDS, we see firsthand the challenges businesses and individuals face at tax time. The filing process can be complex and time-consuming, and even the smallest mistake can have costly consequences. Waiting until last minute to schedule a tax appointment, gather up necessary documents, and file the tax return can be an anxious and stressful time for everyone!

But we can all do better. Getting ahead—even a year ahead—is all it takes to ensure smooth sailing at tax time to save time, money, and a whole lot of stress. Follow these six steps to make your life easier next spring:

Create a tax calendar

First things first: Identify the deadlines relevant to your tax situation.

  • Individual and small business filing deadline: Monday, April 15, 2024
  • Partnerships, multi-member businesses, LLCs, and S-Corps filing deadline: March 15, 2024

From there, note other key dates you’ll need to have on your radar, such as due dates for quarterly estimated tax payments, extension deadlines, and when you can expect to receive the forms you will need for filing. Add these dates onto your calendar, and block time each month or quarter to take care of tax-related tasks.

Keep financial records

Keep all your important tax documents in one place. This includes items like receipts, records of any interest or investment income, and documentation of business expenses that may reduce your taxable income. You can use a tax organizer to help you keep track of your documents—our CDS experts may supply you with one per request, or you can find many options online.

Make sure last year’s return becomes part of your recordkeeping. Comparing last year entries to this year can help you identify patterns or trends. Think back to conversations with your accountant while they were preparing last year’s tax return. If your tax preparer got hung up on a particular part of your return, think about how you can get out ahead of the issue for next year.

If you’re a business, aim to close your books in January! Give yourself a firm deadline. When your finances are buttoned up, it helps you avoid penalties and fines resulting from missing deadlines or failing to report income correctly. It can also help you identify areas where you can save money and maximize your return.

Stay on top of the latest federal and state tax changes

The tax code is constantly changing, and it’s important to stay up to date on the rules and regulations that pertain to your business, industry, geography, or personal situation. Read IRS publications and local business journals. Talk to your CDS expert and follow along with our blog posts and e-newsletters. Engage with industry connections and thought leaders. If you keep your eyes and ears open for relevant information, you’ll spare yourself surprises and have ample lead time to prepare for changes happening at local, state, and federal levels.

Explore tax credits and deductions

The list of business tax credits and deductions available to individuals and businesses is extensive and always evolving. There may be credits you don’t know about, like those related to following environmentally friendly business practices or offering specific benefits like childcare. If you think you may qualify for a deduction or credit, talk to your CDS expert. It never hurts to ask, and these are conversations that can happen before the busy tax season.

Itemize your business expenses and account for all sources of income

Itemizing and categorizing your business expenses year-round will save you some serious time come tax season. Work closely with your CDS expert to set up a system for tracking expenses and all income sources. This could be a simple spreadsheet or a more sophisticated accounting software program.

Individuals should keep track of their mileage if they use their cars for business purposes. They should also save receipts for charitable donations and track educational expenses if they have children in college.

Schedule a meeting with your CDS expert early.

Meet with your CDS expert three to four months before tax season. Not only will they be up to date on any changes in tax laws that may affect your filing, but they can also help identify what information, forms, and other documentation you need to file your taxes correctly.

Want to get the ball rolling on next year’s tax preparation? Contact our CDS experts at (888) 388-1040 to help you plan for the year ahead!