Feb 7, 2020

 This post is sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are my own.

I have such a love/hate relationship with taxes, but ever since I started preparing for taxes year-long like a true adult, it makes tax time a breeze! In today's post, I'm teaming up with my friends at Allstate to bring you five tips to make tax time a breeze this year! It's crazy to think that it's already tax time, but it's better to start prepping now than be in a pinch in April.

One // Track your finances all year long

It is so, so important to stick to a budget, but it's just as important to keep track of your finances all year long. Whether you run a small side business like I do or you make donations to charity or even purchase things for work, you need these numbers easily accessible for when it's time to file taxes.

If you remember from a year or so ago, I shared how we were paying off $50k of debt, but I also shared an amazing budgeting resource that I would love for you to take advantage of and use! Keep track of every expense and income to make tax time so much easier.

Two // Research deductions before you file

There are so many deductions to keep track of, so be sure to do your research before you file in order to know what deductions you may qualify for.  Online filing programs will walk you through most deductions, but you could still miss a few.

Did you know you get a tax deduction if you donate to charity, on the interest paid on your mortgage and student loans, 401(k) contribution deductions--the list goes on & on! Keep a receipt from any donations given to charity and be sure to stay on the lookout for any tax forms your mortgage lender, student loans lender, and 401(k) company will send to you!

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If you run a small business, there are other deductions that you qualify for, which is why a detailed budget is extremely important. Everything from the pens you buy for your office to the printer & ink, and yes, even the space in your home dedicated to your office is tax-deductible. I use computer programs specifically for my small business, so those are tax-deductible as well! In the end, do your research, keep a detailed budget, and when it's time to enter those deductions for your taxes, you'll have all of the numbers easily available to you.

For all my small business owners, check out these ten small business tax deductions!

Three // Pay quarterly taxes if you're self-employed

Y'all, this is so important and I'm preaching to myself with this point...if you are self-employed or run a small business side-hustle, pay your quarterly taxes! Not only do you risk paying a penalty for not paying your quarterly taxes, but instead of getting a nice refund at tax time, you'll be owing thousands of dollars.

It's better to pay something towards these quarterly taxes rather than nothing at all. There are so many awesome resources, but you can also use my budget planner and add a section for your estimated taxes--on average, plan to spend about 30% of your income in taxes for a small business.

Four // Utilize a filing system

I cannot stress this enough--keep yourself organized! I have a binder that I keep all of my important tax papers organized in. You can also utilize a file folding box or even a filing cabinet in your home office if you need a little more space.

The key is to keep everything in one place--whether it be your receipts, invoices (hello small businesses!), or your W-2's and 1099's. You also want to be sure you are saving your past year's taxes in your binder as well.

You never realize just how important those tax papers are until you're applying for a mortgage--they ask for the past 2-3 years of tax documents, and you want to have those organized. We didn't have them organized when we initially applied for our mortgage, and it created such an unnecessary headache--so learn from our mistake!

Five // File online

Once you have everything ready to go and you're ready to file, do yourself a favor, save the time & money, and file online! My friends at Allstate recommend filing online, and it really does save you time and money. Most online filing programs are either free or under $150. I pay around $150 for a small business program but comparing that to using a tax preparer, that's extremely affordable.

I also love that most online programs walk you through every step--whether you got married, had a baby, bought a house, started a business, etc. it's going to be able to help you file your taxes properly and easily! The other huge perk to filing online is receiving your tax refund a lot quicker. Since you're filing online, you have the option to link your bank account to get your refund direct deposited--no need to wait weeks for a check to arrive.

For all of you that are receiving a tax refund this year, (yay!) check out these smart ways to utilize your refund!

Get organized, do your research, and file those taxes!

Happy Tax Season!

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. As the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most, but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day. Thank you for supporting ACF!

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