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Archived ADDvice Newsletters

March 2005

Getting Your Taxes Done the ADD-Friendly Way

Work on taxes early so you can file well before April 15th.

Taxes are due each year on April, 15th. Everybody knows this and yet each year those with ADD continue to have difficulty getting the documentation together in some semblance of organization to be able to get their tax return filed. Even if you hire a professional to help, you will still need to get him the information to prepare your taxes. If you file your taxes yourself (we don't recommend this if you have a great deal of difficulty with details or have a complex tax situation), you will need to gather and organize the information to fill out the forms. Getting your taxes filed sooner rather than later - thus avoiding late fees and penalties - saves you mistakes and ultimately money. But how do you organize all of those papers?

Let's focus on this year first and then we'll address what you can do to be better organized in the future. Here are some simple steps to make the process of filing a return more ADD-Friendly. If you have difficulty concentrating or long periods particularly on tasks that are tedious and boring yet require accuracy, it's best to break down the task into a two or three day process.

  1. Pick a day in early March to get things ready. Set aside several hours when you can give your undivided attention. That might mean having someone take care of the kids or turning off the phone, but the earlier you prepare the better. Be sure that you have taken any medications prescribed to help you focus and concentrate better
  2. Locate last year's return. You will be able to use this as a guide.
  3. Use the 1040 booklet sent to you by the IRS but focus only on items that are applicable to you. We'll talk more about this later.
  4. Sort all of your documentation into 2 piles - Income and deductions.
    *Income pile should contain all your pay stubs, bank statements, and other documents related to income (W2 - 1099 - K-1 forms).
    *Deduction pile should contain your check register or cancelled checks, credit card receipts, and documentation for any charitable contributions that you have made.
    *Use a tax organizer. To help sort, you can also use the forms or organizer provided by your accountant or your 1040 booklet from the IRS as a rudimentary organizer. Use the categories in these booklets to help you sort your papers. File all income paper in that section, file interest paid in that section, file papers related to your salary (1099 or W2) in that section...Do likewise for your deductions.
  5. If you find you are missing documents, request duplicate copies now.

That's it! Now you are ready to take these sorted documents to your tax preparer or to prepare your return yourself.

To prepare your return this year:

  1. Pick another day when you are fresh and your mind is focused.
  2. If you were missing documentation from before make sure that you have it now.
  3. Prepare your return by using software such as TurboTax (visit TurboTaxFree Efile) or fill out the forms sent to you by the IRS based on last year's return.
  4. Use last year's tax return as a guide.
  5. If you have had an unusual transaction such as a stock sale or you sell your house, you can download the new forms you need at www.irs.gov.

Getting Organized - Next Year

To ease the stress of tax season, collect all the records you will need in one place throughout the year. Be sure to keep your records up to date. The best way to do this is to create a special Tax Organizing Folder for all of your records. As documents such as pay stubs or contribution receipts come in, just drop them into this special folder. You can make an expanding file yourself (just be sure that it has side so that papers can't fall out).

Tip#1:

Circle tax deductible items as you review your credit card statement before making your monthly payment. File copies of these in your tax organizer under deductions or contributions.

Tip #2:

Financial organizing chores such as bill paying, balancing your checkbook, and analyzing financial statements are excellent opportunities to use a body double, someone who sits quietly with you while you attend to financial organizing chores. Many people with ADD find that the calm presence of another person, who is there to keep them focused on their task, is very helpful.

Page 238, ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life

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