How to Do Your Taxes FasterSave this online in Del.icio.us. [?] Vote For this Post
I've been filing my taxes for a few years now, at first with the help of my dad, this past year on my own, and I thought I might share how I speed up the process of filing my income tax return. If this is helpful, or if you have any insight of your own to add, please commment and let me know. Ditto if you link to this post: send a trackback.
1) Read the forms over and take notes.
On looseleaf, you should write things such as which sections will see the numbers increase or decrease. This means accidental errors will be caught before the end of the process (last year, I added 9K where I was supposed to substract... you can imagine my surprise when I finished and saw that I, a student, owed money to the government!). Other considerations for the notes are which documents are required for that particular section, and which not. If you have lots to write, and break the work up over several days, this allows you to know what documents you need what day, and order them accordingly.
2) Have all your materials ready when you sit down.
The materials you'll want to have with you include all documents, such as T4s, a calculator, an extra copy of the return in case you mess up the first time, pencils and an eraser, and paper to keep notes. The advantage of preparing this all off the bat is that you needn't get up several times and interrupt your train of thought. This step avoids wasting time and prevents distractions (that's where I left the recipe! I need to call Sara to tell her).
3) Start by estimating all your revenue for the year.
Income tax, ultimately, works by brackets. Knowing what your revenue and associated tax bracket is helps you out by giving you a rough estimate of what you should be paying (or getting back). Not only does this prevent filing a return with a major error in it, but it helps you follow all the calculations logically. For example, anyone earning less than $9000 a year knows they'll get back several hundred dollars. If they finish and find they've calculated they owe the government money, they know there's a mistake somewhere.
4) Do your taxes at the same time as your spouse/partner.
This simplifies the process as you don't need to wait and go back and forth. You can do the calculations on how to minimize your taxes as you're both writing out the numbers. This works on the same principle as number one.
5) Become a citizen of Monaco or Aruba.
Doing your taxes is really simple in those countries: there are none!
UPDATE: 6) Use U-file.
This tip comes to us graciousness of Mark Dowling (see comments). It won't necessarily speed things up, but it's another good way to check for mistakes. In a sense, it saves time dealing with annoyed and annoying bureaucrats who have nothing better to do than waste their and your time finding out why you erred in your statement.
7) Use Netfile to file your taxes.
Basically the sam as U-file, but free of submission charges, and it goes through faster.
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Calculate your GST tax break in 3 easy steps
Tax subsidies for people in the trades