I hate taxes. Well, not taxes, per se. I mean, they serve a purpose. I support those less fortunate than I (remembering when I was one of them), and I believe in sharing - so, I don't mind paying taxes. What I hate is the yearly April necessity of figuring out my taxes. <sigh> I don't think I'm alone.
Here's the thing - despite my promise every year not to let April 15th (April 17th this year) sneak up on me, it does. Despite my firm decision to pay attention, save receipts in a file, and get organized, I don't. And, while I am smart enough to hire someone to do my taxes, I am not smart enough to have hired help to get organized.
This is not a post about getting ready for 2012 Tax season...although, it could be. Even though the filing date is long past - sharing thoughts now would fit in with my tax relationship - always being behind. It's about getting ready for next year, and the year after, etc, etc, etc.
Here's a great resource for getting organized and starting to prepare for the future, now: 5 Resolutions for Freelances in the Coming Tax Year. First, I LOVE this paragraph describing a social media guru who could be me:
Most of the time, we’re addressing young freelancers who are struggling to make ends meet and making mistakes experienced freelancers have long ditched. But every year we meet experienced freelancers who are doing things the hard way. For example, there’s the social media guru — a man who recently billed one client six figures — who told us that his filing system consisted of stuffing receipts and unopened bank statements into plastic bags scattered around his office. It was April 1, and he was determined to organize the contents of all eight bags in a day so he could meet with his accountant.
Not funny, right? But so on target, it made me laugh out loud.
Ok... let's get serious. This article has some advice well worth taking. Here is the one point I appreciated the most (do hop over and visit the site for the entire article):
- Hire experts who are not you. Most professionals understand it’s not worth the headache to do certain tasks that require specialized expertise. Yet some freelancers are tempted to do their own taxes, though they can barely calculate a lunch tip. Ask other self-employed friends to recommend a tax preparer who knows self-employed taxes. The ideal preparer will help calculate your estimated taxes each quarter, give you some pointers on deductions you haven’t considered and advise you on upcoming changes to tax law. When you get comfortable with one expert in your life, save your money for two more: a personal financial planner to help you plan for goals, and a lawyer to draw up all necessary documents, such as wills, trusts and health care directives.
You don't do your own taxes, do you? I don't even do my own bookkeeping. Anything with numbers in it scares the bejeebies out of me. Yes, I can create and manage a budget - don't get me wrong. But, applying that budget to what the goverment decides is my fair share of taxes - not in my wheelhouse.
I love hiring experts. Believe it or not, it's often cheaper than trying, and failing, on your own. Plus, you have a business to run - run it. Let other people do the filing, tax prep, phone calls, and appointment setting.
Last little bit of advice - here's how the authors of this article close - in my opinion, this should be in all caps, posted in a visible place in your office (and mine):
A final note. The worst habit self-employed people can develop is waiting for the big score. “When the big project, the big deal, the big account comes in,” goes the thinking, “then I’ll save for retirement or taxes, or pay off that credit card or student loan.”
Cat burglars think this way.
Big-score thinking perceives money as the savior, but it’s not. Good money habits are. Stick to your resolutions and see.
Let ME sign off with this - we are a cash-based family, here. And a cash-based business, for the most part. It was hard giving up credit cards, but we did. Try it. You'll find it freeing and invigorating. (not that you won't use credit cards occasionally - but only when you can pay the balance off every month).
As for the "big-score"... we're planning for it. And when it comes, I will be ready. But, in the meantime, I want to be ready for now, today, and having what I need to keep the lights on, feed the dogs, take a trip or two now and then, and just enjoy life.
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