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Don’t duplicate the stress: think taxes year-round

Now that the April 15 tax filing deadline has passed, so too has the stress associated with filing taxes for most people. This year, resolve to think about taxes early and often so you don’t get caught in a last-minute panic. 

Not only does this advance preparation help reduce anxiety, but it also positions you for a bigger return in the future. A little ongoing effort could mean more money and less chaos when taxes are due next year.

Follow these tips for a hassle-free filing next year:

1. Think taxes year-round. Don’t wait until you’re ready to file your taxes again to start collecting and organizing the supporting documents you’ll need to complete your return. Avoid the scramble by capturing and uploading digital image copies of important receipts when they come in, such as each time you pay the babysitter or have a tax-deductible transaction, fill a prescription at the pharmacy or make a charitable contribution such as dropping off a clothing donation to your local thrift store.

2. Securely store documents online.Avoid the mess of a mound of paperwork by storing – and organizing – all of your tax-related documents online. A secure service such as the Master Lock Vault (www.masterlockvault.com) ensures you’ll have easy access to all of your files wherever you are and that none of your paper documents will ever be lost, misplaced, stolen or damaged. Not only can you upload PDF forms, you also can upload photos from your phone of important receipts and expenses for your records. All data is instantly synchronized between the website and the app. As a bonus, you can securely store log-in information for your bank accounts and tax filing site in the Vault so you’ll never have to worry about forgetting your username or password.

3. Adjust your withholdings. While getting a large return at tax time sounds great to most people, it can sometimes mean that you are withholding too much money from each paycheck – funds that you could be spending or investing earlier in the year. Use an online tax withholding calculator, such as the one offered by the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov), to ensure you’re claiming the correct number on your W-4 form and withholding the correct amount.

4. Educate yourself on new credits and deductions. If you wait to educate yourself on potential tax credits and deductions, you might miss your window of opportunity to take advantage of them and save yourself some money when it comes time to file taxes again. The IRS offers a list of credits and deductions for both individuals and businesses on its website.

5. Call for help.Sometimes, outside advice is necessary, particularly if the new year will bring a life changing event, such as a marriage, birth or buying a home. Scheduling a meeting with a tax advisor now will mean you have a strategic plan in place for managing your taxes year-round.

For more advice and to start taking advantage of these tools, visit www.masterlockvault.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Master Lock is not a legal, tax or accounting advisor, and the information in this press release should not be construed as legal, tax or accounting advice.  Master Lock recommends that consumers consult a professional advisor for advice concerning specific tax or other matters.

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