Some of our readers may be confused as to why we’re talking about taxes in February. While 47% of Canadians wait until April to file their taxes you can actually start filing your taxes as early as February 15th, today! Getting organized early may get you a larger refund or a smaller balance owing, since many people who wait to file at the last minute often find missed write-offs at a later date.
We turned to local small business accountant, Jo Jo Imai, to get some tips on filing our taxes and keeping organized throughout the year. Jo Jo has over 18 years experience as a Certified General Accountant and runs her own accounting practice in the Fraser Valley. As a small business owner herself, she has passion for helping other small business succeed.
What are 3 easy ways for people to stay organized so they aren’t scrambling to meet the April 30th tax submission deadline?
1. Keep all your tax slips and receipts in one set place, preferably divided into different categories.
2. Organize your receipts regularly and ensure the they are in the correct category/folder.
3. Review all tax slips well ahead of time to ensure none are missing. Don’t wait until the last minute to collect missing forms that may have to come to you in the mail.
What are the biggest or most common mistakes people make when filing their tax returns?
The biggest mistakes made are under reporting, due to missing slips or information, and over reporting where people claim something they are not entitled to. A Certified General Accountant can help you determine what you are and are not entitled to.
When can you do your taxes by yourself and when should you get help from an accountant or tax professional?
With a variety of different software packages available, anyone can file their tax returns by themselves if they have time to learn and understand where the savings opportunities are. However, to ensure one receives everything they are entitled to, professional assistance is recommended.
Why do you recommend working with an accountant instead of a bookkeeper when filing tax returns?
Accountants are legally mandated, through their certification, to meet the highest levels of professionalism and practice standards. This enables additional valuable counsel and protection to clients.
How can people help their accountants complete their tax forms faster and cheaper?
Stay organized!!! Categorizing and summarizing receipts (i.e. donation, medical, employment, business) ahead of time will streamline the review process. Also, sit down and talk with your accountant. Through conversation, your accountant may be able to identify additional information that will improve your tax situation.