Tax Preparation Checklist: Lessons from Your 2017 Tax Return

Once you’ve completed your 2017 taxes and have all the required documents handy, it’s the perfect time to review your return and take stock of lessons learned to prepare for big changes in the years to come, according to Senior CFP Board Ambassador Jill Schlesinger, CFP®.

Not sure what to look out for? Schlesinger shares a checklist to keep you on top of your finances in 2018:

  • Be a Neat Freak: Create a real or electronic file exclusively for your 2018 taxes to store all relevant receipts, statements, W-2s, 1099s, property tax bills and mortgage interest statements throughout the year. Be sure keep track of your purchase price, commission, and sales price for any investment transactions as well.
  • Be Smart About Your Refund: Use found money from Uncle Sam to contribute to a retirement or college savings plan, to pay down outstanding debt or replenish your emergency fund. However, if your refund is larger than a few thousand dollars, it’s time to adjust your income tax withholdings at work. If you’re self-employed, be sure to lower your quarterly estimated tax payments accordingly.
  • Be Cautious with Retirement Savings: If your tax bracket is dropping, this year could be an excellent time to convert your traditional IRA into a Roth. Carefully consider the tax consequences of the conversion – it may be worth waiting until the fourth quarter when you know exactly what your 2018 earnings will look like.
  • Be Mindful of New Tax Laws: The new tax law affects standard deduction limits, as well as deduction limits for medical and dental expenses, and home mortgage interest. This will impact whether you can deduct charitable gifts, when to schedule medical procedures and how you use home equity loans.
  • Be Proactive about Planning: After tax season, check in with your accountant or financial advisor and ask him or her to create mock 2018 returns. Thinking about your new tax situation can be daunting, but it may be better than you expect. But, if not, it’s better to know ahead of time and put a plan in place.

Read Schlesinger’s full blog post here with more details.

For additional guidance, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you evaluate the outcome of your 2017 tax filing, use the insights gathered to adequately prepare you for 2018 and help you understand how changes to tax laws can potentially impact you moving forward.