In terms of taxes, 2010 was quite a roller coaster. More tax acts, encompassing more laws, were passed in 2010 than in any other year, except perhaps 1986—the year the United States Internal Revenue Code was overhauled in the Tax Reform Act.
Did you have a good tax year? Did you get back as much money as you expected? Did you get away with not owing any more money to the IRS and your state than you could afford to pay?
Is your tax life serene? Read no further. You need not make a single resolution.
If you’re like the rest of us, however, for whom there was not enough time to take care of all our record keeping, bill paying, phone answering, and filing, these New Year’s Resolutions are for you!
New Year’s Resolution #1
I promise to set up a filing system for all my receipts—and keep putting things into it at the end of each day, and the end of each bill-paying session. This filing system can be as simple as a bag or box where I keep everything, or as complex as an expandable file, a filing cabinet, or a scanner that screens and sorts my receipts.
New Year’s Resolution #2
I promise to log all my business and personal miles. I can use my appointment book, an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever clever tool I can find on my phone to do this. I will submit my expense reports with all receipts attached within ten days of each business trip. By doing so, I will stop losing receipts and get my full reimbursements sooner.
New Year’s Resolution #3
I promise not to make any major financial decisions, make any significant purchases, or start a business without consulting my tax adviser beforehand.
New Year’s Resolution #4
I promise to reconcile my bank and credit card statements within ten days of their arrival, thereby catching errors and overcharges in time to get them reversed.
New Year’s Resolution #5
I resolve to discuss the family’s finances with my children, making them a partner in the family’s fortunes. By having a better idea of the family budget, they can be more helpful in keeping our monthly spending under control.
New Year’s Resolution #6
I resolve to save money every month. Even if all I can afford is $25 a week, I will start making a habit of paying myself first before spending money on impulse buys.
New Year’s Resolution #7
I promise to take advantage of every tax-savings benefit offered to me by my employer. I understand how much smarter it is to use pre-tax money to pay for my routine expenses, like medical expenses, child care, and education.
New Year’s Resolution #8
I promise to review my tax liability for the year twice during the year—in early summer and during the fall. I will make timely changes to my withholding and revise my estimated tax payments as needed.
New Year’s Resolution #9
I promise to sit down and prepare my will. If I have children, I will identify their future guardians should anything happen to me. I will explore the advantages of a living trust. I will sign a health care directive so my family or friends may act on my wishes if I am incapacitated.
New Year’s Resolution #10
I promise to read the Equifax Personal Finance Blog each week, to help me save money, use money wisely, and keep my taxes low.