I doubt there are many people who consider doing taxes an act of creativity..maybe a few tax accountants out there.
However, any project that occupies 20 hours of my life deserves consideration in the creative process.
I wish I could be one of those persons who brings a shopping bag full of papers to their accountant each year and says “Here ya go, have at it.” But I’m a control freak by nature and I actually try to keep track of what’s coming in and going out.
Structural Tension Chart
All projects to which I apply the creative process begin with a Structural Tension Chart which includes my goal, current reality, and action steps.
Goal (which is it I want to create?): An accurate, timely tax return. An accurate snapshot of our finances.
(Note the first sentence isn’t terribly exciting but it is accurate. The second sentence is more interesting because we’ve been thinking a lot about retirement and an accurate snapshot of our finances is required as a starting point).
Current Reality: Before turning things over to our accountant I make sure the numbers in Quicken match the numbers on our the numerous financial statements we receive from our credit cards, banks, and other places with which we spend or receive money.
Last year I kept current until June then got behind and began printing statements and filing them in a 3-ring binder. So I have six months of statements to reconcile with receipts I added to Quicken.
I scan and file my receipts so I have backups of all my tax-related receipts.
And it looks like we’ve received most of the tax documents we need to include: W2s, interest statements, and mortgage interest.
At this point, I have all of the numbers and documents. I just need to make sure the numbers are in Quicken so I can send an electronic file to our accountant.
I’ve estimated I’ll be ready to send everything on or before March 15. I’m hoping I don’t need to beware of the 2017 Ides of March.
Actions steps fall loosely into the following categories:
- Reconcile Quicken with statements
- Generate reports
- Organize documents
- Send to accountant who files electronically
- Pay if we owe money
I’ve already begun reconciling statements and expect the process to be completed in early March.