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Tips for Preparing for Tax Time

December 20, 2017

If you think it’s too early to start planning for tax time, you may want to think again. Why risk an added headache when the inevitable is coming? Now is a great time to start getting those preliminary tax details squared away. Use these steps as guidelines as you begin:

Determine who will be filing your taxes. Do you feel confident filing your own return? Or, will you be requesting the help of a trusted professional? It’s important to decide who will take the lead on the annual chore as early as possible. If you will be responsible for completing and submitting the appropriate forms, you will want to ensure you have enough time to finish and review documents, perhaps even a few times. On the other hand, if you will be depending on a service or tax advisor, scheduling an appointment early will help prevent unwanted hassles due to time constraints.

Catch up on the latest tax laws. Regardless of who will be taking the lead to file your taxes, it is beneficial to be informed so you can make smart decisions throughout the process. Laws are always changing and it is to your benefit to do some research to learn what you should be mindful of based on your lifestyle and financial position.

Collect documents. Gather and organize necessary income- and expense-related documents as early and consistently as possible. Having a system in place throughout the year will save you a lot of time when tax preparation time nears. But, even if you aren’t organized yet, doing so will save you time and stress in the long run.

Prioritize personal security. Identity theft and scams are unfortunately common during tax season. As confidential information circulates, fraudsters are often more aggressive. Take extra precautions when sharing sensitive information, and always be cautious of who has access to key personal data.

Be mindful of the deadline. While Tuesday, April 17, 2018 may feel like a faraway date now, it will sneak up quickly – especially if you are poorly prepared. Don’t procrastinate. And, if you anticipate that you will need to file an extension, ensure you complete the proper documentation in a timely manner to avoid penalties and interest charges.

Whether you will be filing your own taxes or going to a trusted professional, preparing ahead of time can help minimize stress and speed up the process. If you are in search of additional information, the official IRS website ( is a reliable resource. This is also where you can find up-to-date forms and instructions.

Jim Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone at 781-665-2500, online at, or on Facebook at

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