Tax Day is April 15. While there are some people who leave their taxes for the last minute, some people are already starting to gather together their receipts, calculate their deductions, and start submitting their tax forms. After all, the sooner you file, the sooner you get your return. But before you get started with your tax preparation this year, you need to take stock of your home or office. In addition to tax preparation software, there are a number of other products you should pick up if you want to get prepared for tax season. In addition to software and shredders, there are a number of tech accessories you should pick up to help you do your taxes faster and more accurately. Here are five things worth buying ahead of Tax Day.
1. Fellowes ‘100% Jam Proof’ Heavy Duty Shredder
Tax documents contain a lot of sensitive personal information. They also take up a lot of space in hard copy form, especially if you have a lot of supporting tax documents like mileage logs or receipts. H&R Block recommends keeping hard copies on file for at least three years before you shred. If you want to shred sensitive tax documents, one reliable shredder is this “jam proof” model from Fellowes. It holds six gallons of shreds, and is rated at Security Level 3 (a mid-level rating). This makes it sufficient for the needs of an average person.
Before you start shredding, you might want to take a few minutes to use an identity theft-protecting rubber stamp on any sensitive docs. If you need a cheaper shredder, you might like the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Shredder, which costs about $30. It’s a good idea to shred paper copies, but keep a digital copy just in case.
Price: $187.93 (59 percent off)
Check out the TurboTax video above to learn about four tax credits that you can use to boost your refund this year.
There are a lot of tax prep software options out there, and it’s worth investigating them all so you can make an informed choice. TurboTax is one of the biggest names out there, and it also gets favorable reviews. The Wirecutter named TurboTax as the best tax software out there, while a recent New York Times article argued that TurboTax also offers fast importing of old returns, as well as having the best smartphone app.
However, Forbes argues that some TurboTax users may dislike this year’s offering. Those who previously used TurboTax Deluxe may note that some features have been removed from Deluxe, and will now require an update to TurboTax Premier to access. However, if you don’t need to worry about things like self-employment income, investment income, or rental income, then this change shouldn’t affect you.
Price: $9.99 and up, depending on version selected
3. Silicon Power External Hard Drive
Saving a digital copy of your tax return is important in case of an audit. It’s also much more convenient to save digital copies than hard copies, at least from a space-saving perspective. There are lots of options out there, but one hard drive company we like is Silicon Power. This company makes several different external hard drives that have extra protection for all your private data.
Pictured above is the Silicon Power Rugged Armor A30 external hard drive, which meets US Military (MIL-STD-810G) for protecting against drops/impacts. You might also want to check out their water-resistant and waterproof external hard drives, which are available in a variety of sizes. If you don’t want to risk losing the only copies of your tax return due to flood or accident, these are hard drives you can trust.
Price: $62.99 (48 percent off the 1TB model)
4. NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner and Digital Filing System
Available for both PC and Mac, this is a great tech accessory for anyone who has to keep track of a lot of receipts. Over time, paper receipts can fade, get lost, or get stained. Digital copies are less of a hassle to keep track of, especially if you have a handy mobile scanner. This scanner is lightweight enough to take on business trips without weighing down your luggage. You can also store it in your office. You can export to Excel, Quicken, or TurboTax. Additionally, you can sync contacts with Outlook or Address Book.
Price: $129.99 and up
5. Smead All-in-One Income Tax Organizer
Okay, this might not be the most high-tech option out there, but it gets the job done. For those days when you need to do some tax prep away from your gadgets, there’s this helpful organizer. This product comes with an instruction sheet/checklist, preprinted labels, and tons of pockets. There are 12 pockets, plus one large pocket in back. You can store documents by month, or divide your documents into several different categories.