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paper workWhether you’re hiring an accountant to do your taxes or tackling the task yourself, you need to prepare to ensure that your taxes are calculated correctly. If mistakes are made, you will have to file an amendment, which costs money and is time-consuming.

Follow these tips to avoid filing incorrectly:

  1. Keep current and former employers and financial institutions aware of your current address. Anyone you did business with in a given tax year will need to mail tax forms to you.
  2. Make a list ahead of time of the documents that should be coming in the mail—Forms W-2 and 1098, receipts, etc. If you’re especially organized, try making a list throughout the year that you add to when your job changes, you make a charitable donation, etc. When each form arrives, check it off the list and put it in a file specifically designated for tax information.
  3. If you are doing your taxes by hand, visit the IRS website to determine which form you need to file (1040EZ, 1040A, 1040, etc.). The IRS does not mail these forms, but you can download them for free on the IRS website.
  4. If you are hiring an accountant to prepare your taxes, explain your tax situation (mention if you’re joint filing, if you’ve recently changed jobs, bought or sold a house, or made a significant charitable donation) and verify what documents you should be providing prior to the first meeting.

Remember that staying organized and writing things down will make things easier when tax time arrives, whether you do them yourself or have someone else do them!