How To

Tax Season Tips To Keep You Sane: Mint’s Personal Finance Roundup

photo: JD Hancock

With tax season heating up, most of us are poring over our financial documents and focusing on getting our records straight. In the world of personal finance, tax prep doesn’t exactly rank as the most interesting activity in anyone’s to-do list. (In fact, we rank it solidly between getting a flu shot and a root canal.)

But if you’re well organized and you keep your records clean, getting your taxes won’t be that much of a chore. A tool like Mint.com can provide a clear and organized perspective of your money that you can use to reconcile against your tax statements. Also, to help you out with some great tips for this time of year, we prepared a list of tax-related articles from around the blogosphere:

If your tax documents are getting you down, think about getting a little help. While you could definitely work on your taxes on your own, you can also enlist the help of a tax preparer to get you through the process more easily and quickly. And if you own a business, it’s all the more important to have a professional help you. If you’ve decided to turn to a pro, heed this advice first: Check Out Your Tax Preparer. Don’t Mess With Taxes gives a comprehensive checklist for how and even why you should check your tax preparer’s background before you decide to hire them.

Getting audited by the IRS is clearly among the top things that make us tremble in our boots. If you’re feeling a little paranoid about the possibility of ending up face to face with the IRS soon, then check out this piece called Chances Of Getting Audited? IRS Audit Rates 2010. This article by My Money Blog will shed light on the facts, give you perspective and hopefully help you set your fears aside.

We also found a few articles focusing on how maximizing tax savings. Some tricks: contributing to a retirement plan, looking into a flexible spending account and identifying deductions for which you qualify. Check out these posts for ideas from Daily Worth, who writes about how to Get A Tax Credit For Saving. You can also get Tax Savings On OTC Medications by Using Flexible Spending Accounts as suggested by The Digerati Life. Take a look at this full list of Tax and Money Saving Tips from PF Stock as well.

What kind of tax deductions are you claiming? Here’s a post by MainStreet that discusses the details of how to handle Deductible Alimony. If you’re paying alimony to your ex, you’ll want to find out how to make your payments qualify as deductions on your return.

Finally, we all know that IRAs are a great way to save for retirement while saving on taxes. But be aware that An IRA Is A Poor Shelter For Real Estate. If you are thinking about owning or investing in real estate, then this article by Kiplinger could give you some food for thought. Be armed with the facts before you make a major decision.

Tax season may cause a lot of headaches and frazzled nerves, but if you start early enough, stay organized, take things one step at a time and breathe from time to time, you’ll soon get yourself through it.

Silicon Valley Blogger (SVB) runs  The Digerati Life and  The Smarter Wallet, where she writes about  general personal finance topics such as investing, budgeting, debt management and small business ideas.