The dreaded Tax Deadline April 15th is quickly approaching, and if you’re like most people, you are probably facing a slight anxiety attack every time you think about it. If you have already filed your taxes, pat yourself on the back. If not, relax, we have put together a quick Millennial Tax Planning Guide, which will hopefully lower your anxiety level and help you get through the process with knowledge and a system to pay your fair share – not more, not less.

First the basics. If you have income you need to file a return unless the IRS tells you not to. The good news: most people get a refund. The bad news: the IRS is only giving you part of your own money back. Before you file your return, make sure you gather the following information: Your Social Security Number or Personal Identification Number, 2015 tax return, W-2 and/or 1099 statements, income and expense receipts, education payment information, and benefit statements such as unemployment.

If you have a spouse and/or kids, you should also have their full names, social security numbers/personal identification numbers, and income information. For business owners, you will have to include your EIN number, the date your company was established, and a review of your profit and loss statement.

Apps for tax planning

A key to getting through the process is having an organized system. A great online option to look into is Shoeboxed and Waveapps. These apps let you store receipts on your device and will organize them for you. Whether your system is paper or electronic receipt files throughout the year, the information should be readily available when you need to prepare and file your return.

Trying to piece together all the information that covers the last year is difficult, at the best of times and if you try to do it at the last minute, you inevitably will miss important tax planning information. Think of filing taxes like preparing for an exam or presentation for your boss. Simply, have your facts right and proof if challenged (receipts, documentation, etc.).

Millennial Magazine- Tax planning

If you are filing for the first time, do not have any deductions, a simple filing situation and want to take on completing your tax return yourself, consider a few available online filing software’s: Turbo Tax, Tax Act or IRS (Internal Revenue Service) Free eFile. Here, you can link your tax refund to your checking account so you do not have to worry about snail mail or paper checks getting lost in US postal mail, plus, direct deposit is faster.

If you do not have enough deductions to itemize, you may still be able to take certain deductions: moving for a job that is over a certain distance from where you lived, or if you have interest from student loans (up to $2,500). You also may be eligible for education tax credits. Both credits and deductions are income limit dependent.

Hire a professional

As your tax situation gets more complicated, a good tip is to go with a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or an EA (Enrolled Agent) to defend you before the IRS. The designated CPA or EA professional offers year round tax planning and services to not only maximize your tax deductions but maximize your tax savings. “Although tax preparers are held to a higher standard, the IRS requires all paid tax preparers to register and obtain a PTIN (preparer tax ID number) and comply with mandatory continuing education” – Michael Dickson CPA, Holbrook NY.

If your life gets more complex, an increase income, buying more stuff, take on more debt (a mortgage), start a business, receive a large inheritance or you lack time and need someone to take control of the tax area, I suggest interviewing a few CPA’s and select one that you feel comfortable with, answers your questions, and produces timely quality work and ongoing guidance.

Your Business Needs a CPA

If you’re a business owner and you take your business public (Initial Public Offering) IPO, or receive a buyout, the right CPA and CFP® to handle your situation becomes critical to your financial health. The CPA’s job is to know, understand your business and industry and apply the nuances of the tax code to your situation. Life events happen and can result in new tax deductions or credits to lower your State and Federal tax liabilities. Many people know the usual deductions; mortgage interest, property taxes, non-reimbursed work expenses, health insurance premiums.

The success of filing your taxes starts by getting organized, finding the right people for your team (your CPA) who can let you know if the NFL tickets are a deductible entertainment or business expense, how much of your insurance premiums and medical expenses are actually deductible, and how to account for those K1’s. Get your taxes finished sooner than later, it will be one less thing to worry about so you can focus on what’s important – building your wealth, business, caring for family (if applicable) and enjoying the rest of the year.

Crystal Brook Advisors is not a Tax Advisor or CPA. Consult your Tax Advisor or CPA for further information.