1 Gather your tax filing documents
You can start by finding all your relevant documents and statements from the previous year, such as:
- Investment accounts
- Mortgage statements
- Student loans
- Charitable donations
Keeping all your documents in one place makes pulling them together for your return easier at tax time. Take a few minutes to create a physical place in your home and a file on your computer where you can put tax-related documents when they come in. Maintaining good records throughout the year can make it faster for you to prepare your return—and help make sure you don’t miss any year-end tax deductions or credits.
2 Review last year’s return
Review your filing from last year to help you make sure you didn’t miss any documentation. You can note your income and tax deductions from the previous year and compare with this year’s information. If you don’t have a copy, you can request your old return from the IRS.
3 Maximize account contributions
Taking advantage of any contributions you can make to retirement plans may help your tax situation. You can contribute to IRAs and HSAs until the tax deadline (April 15, 2024, for 2023) to help lower your taxable income. And you can start thinking ahead to next year’s return and consider maximizing the amount you contribute to your 401(k) or 403(b) this year to try to lower the taxes you’ll owe.
4 Identify any important changes
Did any major changes happen to you this year? You want to report events such as getting married, having a baby, or buying a home, as those can help lower the taxes you’ll owe. It’s also a good idea to think about any upcoming changes that may affect your future tax position.
5 Contact your tax professional
You may decide to file your return yourself or choose to use a tax professional. If you have any questions about your specific situation or your taxes are complicated, reaching out to a tax professional, usually a certified public accountant (CPA), can be helpful. Having a relationship with a CPA can help you determine your year-end tax deductions and create tax strategies for the future.
Make your tax season less taxing
There’s a lot for you to do when preparing your tax return, including gathering tax filing documents, understanding your filing status, and finding a tax professional. By planning ahead, you can likely eliminate stress and avoid surprises. Your time spent planning will repay you with less time spent and fewer frustrations while filing your return.
The content of this document is for general information only and is believed to be accurate and reliable as of the posting date but may be subject to change. It is not intended to provide investment, tax, plan design, or legal advice (unless otherwise indicated).
Any tax-related discussion contained in this publication, including any attachments, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding any tax penalties or promoting, marketing, or recommending to any other party any transaction or matter addressed. Please consult your independent legal counsel and/or professional tax advisor regarding any legal or tax issues raised in this publication.
John Hancock Retirement Plan Services LLC offers administrative and/or recordkeeping services to sponsors and administrators of retirement plans. John Hancock Trust Company LLC provides trust and custodial services to such plans. Group annuity contracts and recordkeeping agreements are issued by John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), Boston, MA (not licensed in NY), and John Hancock Life Insurance Company of New York, Valhalla, NY. Product features and availability may differ by state. Securities are offered through John Hancock Distributors LLC, member FINRA, SIPC.
John Hancock Investment Management Distributors LLC is the principal underwriter and wholesale distribution broker-dealer for the John Hancock mutual funds, member FINRA, SIPC.