Making tax returns less daunting

In Latest, Money centsby Donna Willan

Making tax returns less daunting

Making tax returns less daunting

Making tax returns less daunting

I am so tired of my tax return shadowing me for months – like a trip to the dentist, you know you are going to do it anyway and it will be fine when you get there. Just do it now and get it over with!

Just like the dentist, when I get around to it, preparing my tax return is actually not that painful. It usually takes me just two evenings to prepare all my documents, a few days to locate the missing ones and then I send it all off to a tax consultant. They then take weeks to prepare my tax return (but manages to prepare my bill very quickly). Within a few weeks after that, SARS contacts me and we are done for another year.

So if it is that easy, then what is going on? Why do so many of us spend a good few months with “Prepare tax return” haunting us at the top of our to-do list? We give this simple task such power but I have a plan to take the power back from the tax return monster.

Tonight, I will begin preparing my 2016 tax return; and by the end of the week I will be able to cross it off my list. For next year, I will do a few things differently. Firstly, I have just put the date for next year’s tax return in my 2017 calendar, and I have set an appointment with myself for mid-October (two evenings as normal) to prepare the return. Now I don’t need to think about it until that appointment pops up in Oct 2017. Ha! Be gone, silly tax return!

Secondly, I will improve my filing system to make the tax return preparation work easier. Can I get my preparation time down to just one evening? Currently, all my monthly bills get put into one folder and once a year I have to sort out 12 months’ worth of bills – that’s always fun! From now on I will file each bill in its correct place monthly – then voila! It takes 10 minutes to consolidate them and capture them into a spreadsheet. Tax return preparation done.

Third, I’m going to change my tax consultant. I’ve been using the same firm for about five years and I have never met them – that’s weird right? I will find an accountant who I actually meet and can develop a relationship with. Surely we should all have an accountant that we actually know to assist with accountant-type things? Wow! I am already feeling really on top of my tax return for next year – now I just need to do this year’s return.

In my next column I am going to discuss home maintenance: how much money should we invest in our homes and what is the tipping point towards over-investing and the risks attached to that?

Donna

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