Crunch Time Again

| May 13, 2002

You ever tell yourself that one of these days you’re going to fix that hole in the roof? The one that isn’t really that bad. The one that really only leaks when the heavens open and walls of water crash down on us. And the wet season gets closer and closer and you’re fixing to do it maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Then you get up one morning and the sky is nothing but black clouds and lightning, and you feel the first drops of rain. Really, really, big drops.

That would feel about the same as realizing it’s just a few days to the April 15 tax-filing deadline and you haven’t done them yet, wouldn’t it?

What now? Two things. 1) Don’t panic. 2) Do something.
Don’t worry, you can get your tax return in before the deadline. Just like you have time to do those basic roof repairs.

“We file every quarter,” says Paula Starnato who, with husband Paul, is an owner-operator out of Seguin, Texas, “and we pay every quarter. We get them in on time, but it seems we pay more every quarter, and we pay more every year. We do what we have to, but it’s not a fair system.”

Todd Amen is president of American Truck Tax, a company that provides tax, business and accounting services to more than 8,000 owner-operators. By Feb. 14th only about 500 drivers had provided him with their complete information.

“I’d guess about half will get filed by April 15, and with the bulk of the others we’ll file extensions. There’ll be a few drivers who never get around to it,” he says.

Among Amen’s company services is one that is simplicity itself: “We send every driver a vinyl envelope every month and tell them to send us every receipt for that month. At the end of the year we have a huge head start on getting their taxes done.” His advice to drivers is to keep 12 envelopes and stuff them with receipts. “That will make things easier if you don’t get around to it until April. The alternative is usually one box with an incredible jumble of paperwork that will make you throw up your hands and surrender.”

For owner-operators the envelopes make quarterly tax payments easier.

O.K., so where to start? Believe it or not the IRS has a surprisingly user-friendly website – www.IRS.gov. It can direct you to local phone line help, show you how to download tax forms, and answer some frequently asked questions. Or you can go to consumer finance Web site www.bankrate.com, one of the Web’s leading personal finance destinations.

Owner-operator Robert Jones, of Miami says “Sure I file a return. I always file it on time and I always make sure to send money with it. Always.”

If you still have a little time, a priority would be to make sure you have all of the numbers you need. It’s of little use sitting down to fill in your tax forms on April 14 without them. Know, for example, exactly what your income was. The IRS knows, so your numbers better match. If there is some paperwork still out with records of your earnings on it, get your hands on it quickly.

It’s also important to know exactly what deductions you have. This will determine whether you’ll itemize them or not. And if you do, it’s important that you can list every item, and list them accurately.

Same goes for tax credits. If you didn’t earn a whole lot, and/or if you have children, you are more likely to be eligible.

Crunch Time Again

| May 13, 2002

You ever tell yourself that one of these days you’re going to fix that hole in the roof? The one that isn’t really that bad. The one that really only leaks when the heavens open and walls of water crash down on us. And the wet season gets closer and closer and you’re fixing to do it maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Then you get up one morning and the sky is nothing but black clouds and lightning, and you feel the first drops of rain. Really, really, big drops.

That would feel about the same as realizing it’s just a few days to the April 15 tax-filing deadline and you haven’t done them yet, wouldn’t it?

What now? Two things. 1) Don’t panic. 2) Do something.
Don’t worry, you can get your tax return in before the deadline. Just like you have time to do those basic roof repairs.

“We file every quarter,” says Paula Starnato who, with husband Paul, is an owner-operator out of Seguin, Texas, “and we pay every quarter. We get them in on time, but it seems we pay more every quarter, and we pay more every year. We do what we have to, but it’s not a fair system.”

Todd Amen is president of American Truck Tax, a company that provides tax, business and accounting services to more than 8,000 owner-operators. By Feb. 14th only about 500 drivers had provided him with their complete information.

“I’d guess about half will get filed by April 15, and with the bulk of the others we’ll file extensions. There’ll be a few drivers who never get around to it,” he says.

Among Amen’s company services is one that is simplicity itself: “We send every driver a vinyl envelope every month and tell them to send us every receipt for that month. At the end of the year we have a huge head start on getting their taxes done.” His advice to drivers is to keep 12 envelopes and stuff them with receipts. “That will make things easier if you don’t get around to it until April. The alternative is usually one box with an incredible jumble of paperwork that will make you throw up your hands and surrender.”

For owner-operators the envelopes make quarterly tax payments easier.

O.K., so where to start? Believe it or not the IRS has a surprisingly user-friendly website – www.IRS.gov. It can direct you to local phone line help, show you how to download tax forms, and answer some frequently asked questions. Or you can go to consumer finance Web site www.bankrate.com, one of the Web’s leading personal finance destinations.

Owner-operator Robert Jones, of Miami says “Sure I file a return. I always file it on time and I always make sure to send money with it. Always.”

If you still have a little time, a priority would be to make sure you have all of the numbers you need. It’s of little use sitting down to fill in your tax forms on April 14 without them. Know, for example, exactly what your income was. The IRS knows, so your numbers better match. If there is some paperwork still out with records of your earnings on it, get your hands on it quickly.

It’s also important to know exactly what deductions you have. This will determine whether you’ll itemize them or not. And if you do, it’s important that you can list every item, and list them accurately.

Same goes for tax credits. If you didn’t earn a whole lot, and/or if you have children, you are more likely to be eligible.

Comments are closed.