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13 Tips for Getting on Top of Your Taxes

It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.

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13 Tips for Getting Top of Your Taxes

It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.

Here are some of those pointers to keep in mind.

1. Decide whether you need help.

For many people, completing one’s taxes may seem pretty straightforward. For others, it may look like a daunting process. If an individual has an incorporated business, such as an S corporation or partnership, and multiple qualified deductions on their return, then a professional’s help is probably best.

2. Don’t forget to fund your retirement fund.

There are multiple financial vehicles available to save for retirement, whether it is a Traditional IRA, SEP-IRA, or Keogh Plan, to name a few. In most instances, money contributed towards retirement is a legitimate way to reduce one’s taxable income on paper.

3. Stay organized.

If you have deductions to keep track of, or if your income is cash, you should stay on top of it. This is possible to do manually, and if your situation is more complicated, you can sign up for programs to help you automate it.

4. Keep in mind the tax deadline.

Tax season typically begins on January 15th, with the IRS beginning to accept personal returns through April 15th. Business returns, particularly with S corporation and partnership returns, are due on March 15th. It’s important to file on time to avoid late penalties and fees.

5. Decide whether you want to itemize or take the standard deduction.

An individual is eligible to take a $12,400 standard deduction off their taxes. However, itemizing expenses, which entail taking deductions for qualified personal expenses, such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions, may yield greater tax savings.

Keep in mind the tax deadline

6. Consider the home office deduction.

Those who have a dedicated office area in their home for work might be worth considering the operating expense of that area for a tax deduction.

7. Remember to include any dependents on your tax return.

If one has any children or adult dependents, it’s important to remember to note this on one’s tax return. Doing so allows for certain tax credits to reduce one’s taxable income.

8. Consider setting up a taxpayer account and filing online.

If one uses self-help tax software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct, tax filing, payment, or refunds are automated online. If one is employing a professional to complete their return, then electronic filing may be set up by that professional on one’s behalf. Otherwise, one can create an account online directly with the IRS for quicker and more efficient filing.

9. Make sure you are filing all the appropriate forms.

If one uses self-help software to file a personal return, all the necessary documents should be included as part of the paid package. If one is filing directly with the IRS, with no middle party to help facilitate the process, it’s important to be careful to point the proper forms and double-check that all necessary documents are filed. For business returns and more complicated personal returns, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure that all the appropriate paperwork is filed.

10. Consider hiring your children (and paying them).

If one has a business, no matter how formal or informal it is, hiring a family is advantageous for both you and them. Any salaries paid to the family are tax-deductible. Retirement contributions and health benefits are also tax-deductible expenses for the family that is the employer.

11. Keep healthy.

If you are self-employed, the entirety of your health insurance is tax-deductible, as is even your dental insurance. If you are employed and purchase health insurance with a high deductible, opening a health savings account or a flexible savings account and using it can help you offset some of the monies spent on taxes.

12. Buy supplies for work.

If you are employed and purchase supplies relevant to your work, this may be deductible. If you are self-employed and make large purchases pertinent to your work, the cost may be deductible in full.

13. Make timely payments, if needs be.

Though many individuals may expect a tax refund from the IRS, some may wish to pay additional monies with their tax filing. Whether it be via an unincorporated status as a 1099 contractor, an LLC, or a corporation, those who are self–employed are expected to make quarterly payments throughout the year by the IRS. Suppose you are wondering when LLC Taxes are due in 2020. In that case, the IRS enables one to register on their website for quarterly estimated tax payments: January 15th, April 15th, June 17th, and September 16th.

Conclusion

Taxes are an unpleasant obligation for all of us who live in the United States. Even those of us who live outside of the United States and are citizens of the United States, staying abreast of tax filing with the IRS is an indisputable legal obligation. To make this obligation run smoother, there are a few pointers to consider. Though it’s not exhaustive, the above list is pretty thorough and a good start.

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Business

Transforming Goals into Actionable Results

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Transforming Goals into Actionable Results - Planning Template

Organizations universally set goals and strategic plans each year, aiming to grow revenue, increase efficiency, or launch innovative offerings. Leadership teams devote extensive energy to developing future visions, five-year horizons, and stretched objectives to motivate their workforce.

But the hard truth remains: lofty ambitions alone rarely catalyze actual change. For transformational plans to spark tangible impacts, organizations must bridge the gap between theoretical strategy and on-the-ground execution.

1. The Planning Disconnect

Many goal-setting approaches prioritize inspiration over implementation. Leadership defines desires for the future: – become a $1 billion revenue company, penetrate emerging markets, and transform customer experiences through AI. Such ‘aim-big’ mindsets spark energy and provide directional guidance amid uncertainty.

However, most planning exercises fail to detail the nitty-gritty work required to achieve audacious results on the ground. People walk out of annual meetings jazzed about the future but without playbooks for activating it day-to-day. Vague aspirations then struggle to be converted into economic value.

2. Finding the Right Strategy

An OKR planning template offers one methodology to overcome this strategy/execution divide. OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, provide a template to cascade high-level goals into measurable, actionable metrics at every organizational level. This connects future milestones with present-moment decision-making, ensuring teams work synergistically towards overarching ambitions. With a strong goal architecture in place, inspiration more seamlessly fuels activation.

3. Why Actionability Matters

Transforming lofty aspirations into step-by-step execution plans brings several advantages:

  • Alignment: With clear OKRs spanning functions, teams can coordinate priorities, resources, and timelines effectively. This fosters organization-wide momentum versus siloed efforts.
  • Motivation: Breaking ambitious objectives into bite-sized key results is less daunting for individuals. Granular metrics maintain motivation amid long horizons.
  • Focus: Concrete next steps prevent distraction from organizational shiny objects that capture attention yet deliver little value.
  • Accountability: Quantifiable measures allow all stakeholders, from frontline individuals to CEOs, to track progress and course-correct in real-time if lagging.

With a strong goal architecture in place, inspiration more seamlessly fuels activation. But we still must apply rigorous execution principles—communication, tracking, agility, and celebration—to generate the hoped-for results.

4. Driving Change in Complex Systems

Large enterprises are multifaceted systems, with interdependent elements spanning processes, technology, and people. This complexity makes driving macro-level outcomes uniquely challenging. As legendary management thinker Peter Drucker noted, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Turning broad organizational change into economic returns requires carefully targeting the vital few interventions that catalyze outsized results. OKRs help leaders thoughtfully assess and sequence the projects that will structurally reinvent operations, remove friction from value chains, and upgrade talent capabilities over time. With clear transformations roadmaps in place, big goals become more grounded amid real-world constraints.

5. Sustaining the Journey

Finally, cascading OKRs across the hierarchy sustains strategic focus as leaders come and go. They provide continuity through inevitable ebbs and flows in the volatile, uncertain business climate. With institutionalized processes for regularly resetting, communicating, and reviewing objectives and key results, organizations stay centered on the handful of big bets that matter most while retaining the flexibility to evolve tactics as needed.

Annual goal setting is table stakes for contemporary organizations. But without concerted efforts to turn those goals into measurable action plans, little changes amid organizational complexity.

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