Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Ways To Avoid A Tax Season Nightmare

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and TurboTax, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TurboTaxACA

Tax Season is officially upon us, and bloggers all around are frantically gathering receipts and adding up their income from advertisement programs and sponsored posts, while wondering exactly qualifies as a business expense. Or maybe that is just me, maybe most bloggers have all that together and don't feel the stress that tax season brings to so many. My first year of blogging, doing my taxes completely overwhelmed me because I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Luckily, I've learned a few things about how to have a smoother tax season and I am going to share those with you today.

1. Keep ongoing records of your profits and expenses. 
I use a spreadsheet from Northern Belle Diaries to track every penny my blog makes whether its from a sidebar ad, sponsored campaigns, or money from Google Ad-sense. On the same sheet, I write down expenses such as the cost of supplies for a sponsored post, any money I invest into my blog like a new design or business cards, and any fees associated with my blog. Keeping an ongoing record saves me from a huge headache at the end of the year because I don't have to try and remember what I did months ago!

2. Keep receipts for everything.
I believe that if there's no receipt, it didn't happen. I keep any business related receipts in an envelope in my Day Designer planner, and if I buy something online, I save a copy of the receipt in my Google Drive folder specifically dedicated to that tax year.

3. Start gathering all of your documents in one place as they start to come in. 

My husband and I received some documents by mail and some electronically, so I stored everything related to my taxes in my Taxes folder on Google Drive. I scanned all the paper copies in so it was all in one spot, and I was able to see if I was still missing an important form. This year we had three W-2's combined, plus a handful of 1099s and other forms such as our mortgage interest form, school payments, etc. Once I was ready to do my taxes, they were all right in the same place so I didn't have to hunt around for anything.

4. Know how the Affordable Care Act affects you, your finances, and your taxes. 
Whether you have insurance or not, there are changes you need to be aware of. 2014 is the first year everyone in the US is required to have health insurance and you must report your health insurance status on your 2014 taxes filed in 2015. The Affordable Care Act also imposes tax penalties for those who aren't covered by insurance.  Luckily, TurboTax simplifies this process and has already done the work so you don't have to stress. TurboTax just asks you questions regarding your insurance coverage that you're required to answer, so you can be confident your taxes are done correctly. If you're not sure on how the ACA affects your taxes this year, be sure to go to to learn more!

5. Do your taxes early, and let TurboTax make your tax filing process simple and painless. 
The earlier you are done with your taxes, the sooner you can sit back, relax, and enjoy that tax refund! This year, we've already completed ours which is the earliest we've ever done them and it feels SO nice to be done. Usually I procrastinate tasks that I think are going to be challenging, but with TurboTax, it doesn't have to be a nightmare! TurboTax can walk you through the new changes required by the Affordable Care Act, and you are able to file for FREE  before the 16th if you have a simple return (1040A/EZ), and get your maximum refund.

This coming weekend is important – health insurance open enrollment ends on Sunday, February 15. This is the last chance you’ll have to purchase insurance to avoid a penalty on your taxes next year. You can check out to learn more about your health insurance and taxes, including finding out if you’re exempt from the tax penalty. While you’re at it, don’t forget to go to to file today for absolutely free before February 16 if you have a simple return (1040A/EZ).

These five, simple tips have made filing my taxes a painless process and something my organized, type A self actually kind of enjoys. Even with the changes that the Affordable Care Act brought this year, thanks to TurboTax I was able to easily complete my taxes in one sitting and now am just waiting for our tax return to show up in my bank account.

Have you done your taxes yet for the year? Is it something you dread or look forward to each year?

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