Avoid last-minute tax panic with slow, steady strategy

Expert: It's all about the organization


Many of you might dread doing your taxes, so you put off the task and end up scrambling to finish the job by April 15th. Ruth to the Rescue found there is a better way to manage that task and avoid those last-minute panic attacks.

"I always tell clients to start with that deadline and work backwards," says financial planner Mary Beth Storjohann. "It's all about the organization.  It doesn't have to be stressful."

Her strategy for the tax season is to break the big job of getting your tax returns finished into a set of smaller, finite tasks. First, set aside time to collect and organize your paperwork. Don't worry about filling in any forms, just get your material in order.

"If you have a scanner and you're text savvy go ahead and scan stuff in and get organized. If you need an accordion file, paper clips, colored post-it notes, there's so many options out there. Just deciding what works best for you, how you're going to organize is a good first step." says Storjohann.

 On another day, start dividing that material into different categories, income and deductions. Then, start plugging those numbers into subcategories.

If you divide the big job into these smaller tasks, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, make progress, and then when you're ready you can

focus on the actual business of filling in the tax return, doing the math, and making sure your return is done correctly.

 "It seems a lot less stressful if you're breaking it into steps as opposed to i'm going to file my taxes today," says financial planner Mary Beth Storjohann.

 Of course, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to perform each step in case you run into delays or get busy with life's other challenges. Try to have

your taxes done well before April 15th, so you have a cushion of extra time.

 Good luck!