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How to make tax time easier

Take the stress out of tax time with a bit of organisation and the right help at the right time. Here are some steps you can take to get prepared.

1. Plan (and save) ahead

No one likes being taken by surprise by a big bill, so put money aside for taxes and levies.

You should:

  • Set up a separate, interest-earning account for tax and ACC payments, and put a portion of each payment you receive into it.
  • Make sure you withdraw these funds in time to make any due payments.
The interest you'll earn can go towards your ACC levy, so you might not need to set extra aside for that.

The interest you'll earn can go towards your ACC levy, so you might not need to set extra aside for that.

Guide to making tax time easier

The interest you'll earn can go towards your ACC levy, so you might not need to set extra aside for that.

The interest you'll earn can go towards your ACC levy, so you might not need to set extra aside for that.

2. Get help when you need it

You may want one-off advice to get you up to speed, or ongoing help from an expert.

You should:

  • Have a think about what you actually need. Are your tax affairs complicated, or are you pretty confident you can get it sorted yourself?
  • Consider getting help at key times if you decide you don't want the ongoing cost — pick and choose what you want help with and what you can do yourself.
  • Do some research before appointing anyone, and think about your needs and the type of advice you're after. A chartered accountant may fit the bill, or a qualified bookkeeper or tax agent. Their fees will differ, as will the experience and expertise on offer.
Calling in professionals can be costly — but they know all the ins and outs of tax, so may end up saving you more than they cost you.

Calling in professionals can be costly — but they know all the ins and outs of tax, so may end up saving you more than they cost you.

3. Get your records in order

You must:

  • Keep all expense receipts and invoices you receive.
  • Keep copies of all invoices you send out.
  • Keep records of any other types of income or expenses, like dividends or rental income.
  • Try to pay for anything that could be a claimable business expense through your business account, so you've got a paper (and electronic) trail.
  • Keep all records, either electronically or in paper form, for seven years.

You should:

  • Set up a filing system that works for you, so you can easily find your records.
Using online accounting software can make this step easier.

Using online accounting software can make this step easier.

Everything's filed electronically in one place as you go, and it's tallied up automatically for you at tax time.

4. Use the right systems

Whether you opt for paper-based or online, choose a system that suits your business.

You should:

  • Talk to others and try a few systems to work out what's best for you and your business — there are plenty of online software options that can save you a lot of time at not much cost. Or opt for a paper-based system.
  • Consider getting expert help to get started — knowing you've got everything set up properly will save you time and stress down the road.
Find the system that suits you best. Do your research online to find exactly what you need.

Find the system that suits you best. Do your research online to find exactly what you need.

If spreadsheets and electronic files are your thing, do it that way. If paper-based works for you, stick with it.

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