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Tax Day 2015 planning starts now

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Posted: 12 pm ET

You finished up your 2013 taxes on April 15. Now let's get started on those 2014 returns.

I hear you. It's barely two days past the annual filing deadline and you want to be done with taxes, at least for a while.

Sorry, but if you want to make sure Tax Day 2015 goes more smoothly than this one, you need to get to work now.

And as I noted when I talked about this topic for an article that appeared this week in The Street, it's easier to make smart tax moves after you've just cleared the annual tax crucible.

Get organized

Did you freak out as April 15 neared, searching willy nilly for the tax documents you needed to fill out your 1040? Don't do that next year. Set up your tax organization system now.

If you expect 2014 to be much like 2013, you know pretty much what you'll need next year. Create a system where you collect those documents, including any receipts that you'll need to claim deductions such as charitable gifts or expenses for your own business. You'll really appreciate having this in place when January rolls around and those forms start showing up in your snail mail.

Be sure to account for digital data, too. Most of us get at least some tax documents as emails or are instructed to download them at tax time. Make note of those electronically transmitted forms so you know which ones to track down via computer next filing season.

And don't forget to include a segment of your organizational system for this year's return and the supporting material you used to file. Tax records offer a good look at what you're likely to encounter in future filing seasons. Plus, you'll have the answers handy if the IRS has questions about your return.

Get help

If you found Tax Day 2014 to be incredibly frustrating, that could be a sign that it's time to get help. Now that your annual filing duty is done, you have plenty of time to find a tax professional.

Not only will a tax pro guide you through next year's filing, he or she can help you make moves this year to reduce any tax you'll owe.

Don't wait until April 2015 to look for help. By that time, most tax professionals are chin-deep in the returns of current clients. They are not likely to take on new work, at least not unless you're willing to pay a very steep premium.

So get to looking for tax help now. And if you got an extension to file, a tax pro can make sure you get your 2013 return in good shape and to the IRS by the Oct. 15 deadline.

Get your money sooner

Finally, if you got a big refund this year, consider getting your 2014 tax cash throughout the year. It's easy to do that. Just adjust your payroll withholding.

I understand. It's hard to save and easy to let your annual tax refund be a forced savings account. But having a few more dollars in your paychecks through a withholding change could make it easier, for example, to make your car payment.

If you prefer, take the amount you're getting in more pay and funnel that into your 401(k) plan. You also can set up automatic deposits to a savings or other account at your financial institution. That way you won't worry about blowing the extra cash and your money is going to you, not Uncle Sam.

More tax info from Bankrate

Want the latest news on taxes, tax reform prospects, filing deadlines, Internal Revenue Service alerts and tax-saving tips? Subscribe to Bankrate's free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

You also can follow me on Twitter: @taxtweet.

Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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