Get your ship in order before tax season!

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Photo of Jennie Moore courtesy of TD Accounting Services

(Guest post by Ontario-based bookkeeper Jennie Moore)

Yes, for those of you who are candid like me, the title is a play on words!

And I’m sure you get the message: Organize your stuff before giving it to your income tax preparer. Let me guess, you vowed last April that you would get your books in order and be a good little taxpayer.

But you didn’t, right? I’m not going to shame you. You’re likely already feeling guilty. But now it’s time to report to Sergeant Jennie Moore. You are now entering Bookkeeping Boot Camp!

Are you up for the challenge? Grow up and take control. Follow these steps and your income tax preparer will become your new BFF.

  1. Day One: Collect all of your source documents (i.e., sales, expenses, and home office expenses, if applicable)
  2. Day Two: Start with your sales. Organize them by date. Total them and sign off on the tabulation page or spreadsheet to attest they are accurate.
  3. Day Three: Find every expense receipt. Every one! No more excuses. You are not allowed to give your tax preparer more receipts once your tax return is in progress or finalized. Take it seriously.
  4. Day Four: Organize by date and tabulate all of your home office expenses by expense category, like Utilities, Telephone, Office Supplies, Advertising, etc. If you aren’t sure if an expense is deductible, categorize it as “Unsure”. Be sure to include details.
  5. Day Five: Write a list of any changes in your personal life since your last tax return. Your tax preparer isn’t physic! He or she won’t know you had a new baby that keeps you up at night unless you say so. The list is endless. So be detailed: you never know, you might be entitled to a tax credit or deduction.
  6. Day Six: Realize that that was a lot of work! Think of ways to make it easier next year.
  7. Day Seven: Make an appointment to speak to your tax preparer or schedule a drop-off, but understand this is a busy time for him or her. Your tax preparer cares deeply about your personal bookkeeping story — as well as everyone else’s. Avoid drop-ins or multiple emails and calls. Organize your thoughts, document them, and forward a nice package with a lovely bow on it. You may find the turnaround time is much quicker.

Congratulations! You have survived Jennie’s boot camp.

Your challenge: Evaluate every bookkeeping transaction you do and find an easier way of doing it…automatically! Talk to the people in the know. We have the answers. The solutions may surprise you. Stop being afraid!

Now do 20 push ups.

Just kidding.

This post originally appeared on QBO Adventures. Jennie Moore is an Ontario-based bookkeeper. Find out more about her and check out some of her other posts on her blog.