Tax Time Tune Up

Excerpted from the new book, "How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain" TM

The complete article with pictures and sample Auto Log is available at www.organize.com

Every year American companies lose millions of dollars in productivity to employees who end up taking their own personal time off to do their taxes. Whether you are filing by paper from just one W-2 or running multiple enterprises, streamlining now will pay off this year and in future.

Applying these proven Tax Time Tune-Up tips will save you time, frustration and could even save you money. Even if you only reduce your stress level ? it's worth it! Start today by getting an archive box or file crate to hold all your tax related files and forms.

If you have a good filing system, but you keep getting bogged down in old records: Every January, pull last year's financial files, any business related expenses, proof of income and all tax related items. While you are taking old files out, make the replacement new file folders for all of your regular home and business or personal financial and legal documents.

If you have no functioning filing system for your home (or business) I recommend you sort out your papers for tax and archives after setting up the FileSolutions TM color-coded pre-printed file kit that fits your current filing needs (http://www.organize.com) That way you'll have the right place to put each item as you handle it. I use the Home and Small Business FileSolutions TM kits in my own business, which makes it easy for me to guarantee your satisfaction.

Tax Preparation Software: By using tax preparation software, you can finish your federal and state returns in about 90 minutes-if you've completed the steps above. The software helps you find deductions, does the math for you and tells you what you owe or what your refund will be. Use tax preparation software matched to your situation and financial software; there are several available (TaxCut, TurboTax, etc.).

I use TurboTax (by the makers of Quicken) to do my own taxes. If I can do it ? so can you! Then, I have a tax professional check my return for way less money than it would have cost me to have my business and personal taxes done by a tax professional.

Good News/Bad News: If your Adjusted Gross Income for 2004 is less than $28,000, or you qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit ? go to http://www.taxfreedom.com and use Intuit's TurboTax program online for FREE!

Online tax-preparation sites keep improving their do-it-yourself tax tools, ease of preparation and regular or e-filing expertise. These offer the same process as desktop software does but, it is all done online. After the products fo through your return for errors (and suggest possible tax-savings), you can print your completed return or file it electronically.

The IRS likes electronically filed returns so much, in fact, that it's set up specific developers that provide free prep and filing to certain demographic groups. Go to www.irs.gov to see if you qualify.

Some tax-preparation web sites are cheaper than their desktop counterparts. But they don't always have the most complete version of tax help that the desktop software does. There can also be additional costs of state filing services, sometimes at more expense than the federal counterparts. A recent PC Magazine rated the top three Tax Web Sites as: TurboTax (ààààà), TaxCut and Complete Tax (both àààà).

Make a file tray marked Tax Stuff every January. While sorting your mail put all 1099's, W-2's, and any tax-related material into it. You can also put colored accordion file pocket folders in your 'tax box' for incoming tax documentation.

Use your credit cards to simplify your accounting. Select which cards you will use for business, travel or expensed transactions, household, personal, and use only one card for all your internet transactions. Label your cards until the usage becomes second nature to you.

Credit card buyer-protection programs are useful in a merchandise or service dispute. Keeping only one credit card number exposed to the web limits your exposure to fraud. I use three cards only: business, personal, and web.

At month end use your credit card statements, auto/transaction log and checkbook to track expenses for your ledger or computer program instead of chasing all the receipts.

Keep a compartment, or envelope in your briefcase where you can easily stuff any receipts or notes. Then, use it. Have a drop box in your office for the expensable receipts from your briefcase or pockets. At home make a place to put any receipts that refer to warranties or personal property records.

After April 15th, archive all tax-related files: separate the previous year from your active files into an available (but not daily use) archive box. Put in a back-up disk or CD of your accounting program for that year along with the data. Also, put your calendar and a carbon copy phone message book in the tax archive box ? it's all proof of business use.

Place prior records into garage or closet storage. Mark each box on the outside by tax year and put all related tax backup documentation into it. Include a copy of the tax return itself, as well as any 1099s, W-2s etc.

Keep a transaction log for auto mileage and miscellaneous transactions. You must have a log to deduct auto expenses, and when you maintain a transaction log the IRS does not require that you keep receipts for expenses under $75.00. This documentation goes into your 'tax box' which becomes your 'tax archive box'.

You can set up your Personal Digital Assistant (e.g., PalmPilot) to use an Expenses Notes section to easily maintain your daily business expenses.

Save yourself money and stress by using these tips to get a jumpstart on 2004 taxes. Tune-up your own file system, or if you don't have one, use the cost-effective FileSolutions TM file kits. Or you can go all the way with new electronic preparation and filing to make sure this year is better than last April 15!

Since 1988, Eve Abbott has developed productivity systems for executives, managers and business owners so their teams can work at least 25% more effectively through her programs and hands-on consultations.

Ms. Abbott is the author of the How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain? (2004). She has degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of California and holds a Lifetime Adult Teaching Credential. The Organizer Extraordinaire appears in New York Times, Working Woman and Home Office Computing articles. Her clients range from S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. to Hewlett Packard and Alameda County as well as countless professionals. More information is available at http://www.organize.com

In The News:

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Small businesses cheer Trump tax reforms, but some feel they didn't go far enough  CNBCTax breaks enacted to help small businesses aren't permanent, and that's made it difficult for business owners to make long-term decisions.
Will get rid of Angel tax after Congress comes to power: Rahul Gandhi  Business TodayCongress President Rahul Gandhi Monday said that angel tax goes counter to the philosophy of startups and his party would get rid of it on coming to power.
Tax optimiser: How salaried Kamal can save Rs 40,000 tax via perks, NPS  Economic TimesNot only should you ask your employer/company for the NPS benefit, but you should also ask for other tax-free perks like LTA, telephone bill. You can reduce ...
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5 unexpected tax breaks you can claim on your tax return  Business InsiderThere are several legitimate ways to pay less taxes. Under-the-radar tax breaks include deductions for jury duty and bringing your pet to work.
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Govt simplifies, widens definition of Startup to provide relief from Angel Tax  Economic TimesAnother crucial change is that no entity with a turnover of Rs 100 crore and above can be called a startup any longer.
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Amazon Doesn’t Plan to Pay the IRS Anything This Tax Season  BloombergAmazon.com Inc. does not plan to pay the IRS anything this tax season. Yet that's not largely because of President Donald Trump's tax overhaul.
FACT CHECK: Does This Meme Demonstrate Racial Bias in Tax-Evasion Prosecutions?  Snopes.comOne of the more unusual political memes we've come across presented four different cases of tax-related financial improprieties to suggest that tax-evasion ...
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People in Charlottesville Weigh in on Proposed Real Estate Tax Increase  NBC 29 NewsCharlottesville City Council is weighing a one-cent real estate tax increase to fund affordable housing efforts.
Big names on property tax defaulters’ list in Puri  Odisha Television Ltd.The Puri Municipality has issued notices to several business establishments as well as individuals over pending holding tax amounting to over Rs 1 crore.
Disabled can claim tax saving deductions up to Rs 1.25 lakh under sections 80DD, 80U  Economic TimesThe Income Tax Act allows deductions from your gross total income, before the levy of tax, if medical expenditure has been incurred on the treatment of a ...
ELSS or insurance: which is the best tax-saving option under Section 80C?  Economic TimesI need to invest Rs 1 lakh in tax saving mutual funds this month for FY 2018-19. My father used to take 80C deduction from LIC premium. Most of the policies ...
Penalty, interest waiver and free health check-up for paying pending property tax! Check details  Times NowNew Delhi: In order to encourage residents to come out and pay their pending property tax, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) is organising health ...
ET Wealth Wisdom: Tax-saving 101 for young earners  Economic TimesIn this week's ET Wealth Wisdom podcast, Shambhavi Mehrotra and Tania Kishore Jaleel try to simplify tax saving for young earners.
Amazon paid no federal tax for 2018 – but how much profit did it earn?  The GuardianThough Amazon's Queens headquarters were ultimately scuppered it turns out the company is already receiving benefits from the government.
Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes  The AtlanticThe weirdly hopeful story of how the U.S. came to be a leader in tax compliance.
Goldman says boost from tax cut 'behind us' so buy these companies that can grow on their own  CNBCStock profits will be harder to come by in 2019 as corporations will no longer get a boost from lower corporate tax rates, according to Goldman Sachs.
Canadians Already Pay 80% Tax On Spirits And The Government Wants To Increase It  MTL BlogCanada is one of the countries with the highest taxes on spirits, and it's still rising. Taxes on alcohol are excise taxes, which are taxes levied on the producers ...
It’s time to pay taxes — and, boy, are people steamed about the Trump ‘tax cut’ bill  The Washington PostThe major overhaul of the tax code wasn't popular when it passed. And based on the postings of many people on social media, it's still not well liked. A Gallup ...
View: A case for a minimum alternative tax on revenues, not on profits  Economic TimesThe right alternative is to tax revenues, not profits. A tax on revenue will apply even to loss-making companies.
You may not be able to claim Income Tax refund, file ITR! Do this in the next 14 days  Zee BusinessIf you are an Income Tax Assessee and still not linked your PAN with Aadhaar, you must do it in the next 14 days. As per the guidelines, it is mandatory to link ...
How to find Income Tax Assessing Officer or AO details?  Economic TimesAssessing Officer is authorized to assess the income tax return you have filed and if he finds any discrepancy in your filed return, he will send you a notice ...
What is pink tax and are you paying it ?  LivemintPink tax refers to the invisible cost that women have to pay for products designed and marketed specifically to them.One way to beat pink tax is to not fall for ...
What Are the Tax Benefits of Real Estate Investing?  Motley FoolAt The Motley Fool, our primary investing focus is on individual stocks -- which we view as the most powerful tool out there for long-term wealth building.
Trading privacy for survival is another tax on the poor  Fast CompanyAmericans at the lower end of the economic ladder suffer from an ever-growing privacy divide, impacting more than just their personal dignity and autonomy.
Notional rent: How to calculate it and how much tax do you pay?  LivemintNotional rent was introduced to discourage taxpayers from leaving houses vacant and create supply of properties for tenants.Notional rent is calculated using ...
Pay your pending advance tax by 15 March  LivemintYou need to pay the fourth and last instalment of advance tax for financial year (FY) 2018-19 by 15 March, if you want avoid paying an interest on the amount ...
Do your taxes for cheap! H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe is on sale for just $18  PCWorldThe tax deadline is still a few months away, but this deal for H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe can't be missed.
Even SALT-Pinched Minnesotans Flocking to ‘Last Great Tax Haven’  BloombergIt's not only residents of high-cost coastal states that are plowing into municipal bonds as a haven from the new deduction limits. It's happening in Minnesota, too.
Illegal immigration taxes: Unauthorized immigrants pay state taxes  Vox.comUndocumented workers paid about $11 billion in state and local taxes, according to a 2017 report by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.
Health Savings Accounts Can Reduce Tax Bills. But Beware the Paperwork.  The New York TimesAt this time of year, many people are looking for ways to reduce their tax bills. One option may be to make a contribution to a health savings account. You can still ...
Pre and post-Budget 2019: How tax benefit changes for individuals with 2 home loans  Economic TimesThe interim Budget 2019 has proposed to treat the second house owned by an individual as self-occupied and thereby removed the necessity of paying tax on ...
From Premium, Maturity To Tax Benefit: Key Things To Know About LIC New Jeevan Anand Plan  NDTV NewsLife Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), the country's largest life insurance company, also offers endowment plans among its various insurance products.
Grasim gets Rs 5,872 cr tax demand on its mega merger  Economic TimesAditya Birla Group firm Grasim Industries Saturday said it has received Rs 5,872.13 crore tax demand from the Income Tax department with respect to its merger ...
Bill Gates Spells Out Democrats’ Tax Plans as a Capital Gains Hike  BloombergBill Gates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders all want the rich to pay more taxes, but Gates is saying what the Democratic candidates appear to be thinking: ...
'Gabbar Singh Tax, Rahul?' asks BJP after Manmohan Singh awards Jaitley-led GST Council  Business TodayUnion Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the Business Line "Change-maker of The Year Award" for the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) ...
How to avoid last-minute tax planning mistakes  Economic TimesTaxpayers often commit mistakes in a rush to save tax. Here's how to avoid investing errors you might regret later.
Highlands to publish names of tax delinquents  Tribune-ReviewIt would be foolish for those who owe back property taxes in the Highlands School District not to pay up or start making payments by April 1. The school board ...
Tax collectors chase rich New Yorkers moving to low-tax states. Auditors inspect cell records, even your dog's vet bills  CNBCThe cat-and-mouse game between state tax collectors and wealthy New Yorkers who are moving to Florida has reached new levels — and gone high tech.
Taxing your privacy  TechCrunchData collection through mobile tracking is big business, and the potential for companies helping governments monetize this data is huge. For consumers ...
Proposed day care center in Clay won't get $243851 property tax break  syracuse.comThe True North Center for Children day care center is to be built on this five-acre site on Waterhouse Road, near the intersection with Morgan Road, in Clay.
Bill Gates Says Taxing Capital Gains Is the Best Way to Tap ‘Big Fortunes’  BloombergBill Gates is concerned about the high budget deficits being run by the U.S., and said if taxes are ultimately increased to make up the shortfall, then it's ...
Taxpayers can compare tax liability declared in final, summary GST returns forms: GSTN  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: The GST Network Tuesday said businesses registered under GST can now compare the tax liability declared as well as input tax credit claimed in ...
METALS-Copper, aluminium rise on China tax policy boost for manufacturers  ReutersCopper and aluminium prices ticked up on Tuesday, supported by China's announcement to cut tax for manufacturers from next month to boost growth in the ...
A visit to a medical lab or diagnostic centre can help you save tax; here's how  Economic TimesThis is a yearly phenomenon that happens at the end of every financial year. All kinds of financial *service* providers - right from banks to insurers to fund houses ...
Indexation benefits available on debt MFs make them more tax efficient than FDs  LivemintGains made on investment in debt mutual funds held for more than 36 months is considered LTCG and indexation benefit is available on it.The indexation ...
4 tips to protect yourself against tax return fraud this year  CNBCWhile the IRS has had recent success combating tax return fraud, the responsibility to protect personal information begins with taxpayers. Here are four ways to ...
Income taxes made easier with technology  Toronto StarHere's how you can use technology to make filing your taxes easier and clearer, whether it using Google Drive or Dropbox to store files digitally or filling it out ...
Tax optimiser: Paying rent to mother, contributing to NPS can cut Kumar's tax by Rs 1.4 lakh  Economic TimesAvinash Kumar has a very tax-friendly salary structure but still pays high tax because he is unable to avail some of the exemptions.
Target, big-box store lawsuits in CNY would push property tax burden to rest of us  syracuse.comBig-box retailers and chain drug stores are bringing to the Syracuse suburbs a tax-dodging strategy that has lowered their property tax bills in other states.
Don’t ignore taxation when planning for retirement  Economic TimesOne of the biggest mistakes investors tend to make while planning for their retirement is looking at returns in isolation, said Prakash Lohana, Managing Director, ...
Angel Tax: Govt now plans mechanism to identify genuine investors  Business TodayAfter the government prescribed the necessary conditions for start-ups to be exempted from Angel Tax, it is now planning to earmark the investors who can ...
How the IDA’s top client used Ireland to siphon billions offshore tax-free  TheJournal.ieMedical giant Abbott has deployed a complex network of offshore companies to legally shelter profits from tax officials.
Here's the tax bill if you hit the $495 million Powerball jackpot  CNBCIf there's a winner in Saturday night's drawing, the IRS will get tens of millions of dollars right off the bat.
Companies with high input tax claims under lens  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: Indian businesses that paid most of their goods and services tax (GST) liability using input tax credit or reported asignificant variation in turnover ...
Understanding how section 80C of the Income Tax Act works  Economic TimesEligible payments include life insurance premium, principal repayment of the home loan and children's tuition.
DRI finds 3.25-cr tax evasion in IPL ticket sales  Deccan HeraldThe State Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (SDRI) of Rajasthan has detected tax evasion of around Rs 3.25 crore in the sale of complimentary Indian Premier ...
France targets Google, Amazon and Facebook with 3% digital tax  CNBCThe French government on Wednesday introduced a tax aimed at internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook, forging ahead with stricter regulation on ...
Elizabeth Warren Wants a Wealth Tax. How Would That Even Work?  The New York TimesWhen the United States government wants to raise money from individuals, its mode of choice, for more than a century, has been to tax what people earn — the ...
Appeals court upholds federal tax exemption for clergy housing expenses  Episcopal News Service[Episcopal News *Service*] In the latest installment in a nearly decade-long effort to have the Internal Revenue *Service's* clergy parsonage exemption declared ...
Mnuchin says U.S. government would shield Trump tax returns from Congress  ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he would shield President Donald Trump's tax returns from Congress, ...
Democrats Want to Tax the Wealthy. Many Voters Agree.  The New York TimesA proposal to tax wealth finds support across party lines, along with the premise that the government should combat inequality.

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