Income tax deadline quickly approaching

"Have taxes due? Have a refund coming? Either way, get your taxes filed."

T-minus 50 days … April 30th is a comin’!

Have taxes due? Have a refund coming?  Either way, get your taxes filed.

Some people feel overwhelmed when it comes to tax preparation.  If the forms and software aren’t intimidating enough, what about finding and organizing all the info needed for input?  Here’s a simple plan I recommend to clients.

Step 1.  Find a copy of last year’s return and follow it.  In fact, make a list of all your inputs for early reference for next year’s prep.

Step 2.  Make a scratch sheet of important notes and questions that have to be investigated or ascertained.  There is too much detail during tax prep to rely on your memory, and forgetting could be costly.

Step 3.  Enter all your personal information.  Be accurate and complete. By the way, some personal changes may require you to mail your return.  Read the CRA forms or heed the instructions that will likely show up in software diagnostics.

Step 4.  Fully open and lay all your slips flat.  Check the name and set aside slips that aren’t yours. Then set aside information clearly not needed for input. Organize your slips into two piles – incomes and expenses. Then group like items together such as all T4 income, T5 interest, etc, and all medical expenses, donations, etc.

Step 5.  Enter your information and tick the numbers on the slips as they are input. When addition is required, use a calculator.  Enter what you easily can identify and find on the forms. Surprisingly those items you aren’t sure about or aren’t sure where to enter will become apparent as you move along with the input of familiar items.

Step 6.  For those items you don’t know where to input, read the slips because maybe they don’t have to be entered.

The info on them may also direct you where to enter them.  If you still can’t figure it out, Google it.

Use the exact name on the slip as your subject line.  This procedure can be completed on the CRA website as well.

Step 7.  When you think you’re done, double check to make sure everything has been answered and input.  If using software, check the diagnostics and don’t override queries before fully investigating.  Unfortunately some software programs accept overrides and permit internet filing with errors or omissions on the return, only to be rejected by CRA – a hassle likely not desired.

There you go.  Done.  By the way, CRA has discontinued the “tele-file” service for 2012 returns. And one final footnote … it’s true that a proprietor return doesn’t have to be in CRA’s hands until June 15, but … if taxes are payable, it has to be paid by April 30.  Go figure.

Ron Clarke has his MBA and is a business owner in Trail, providing accounting and tax services. Email him at ron.clarke@JBSbiz.ca. To read previous Tax Tips & Pits columns visit www.JBSbiz.net.