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Staples' Tax Center Can Help Take the Panic Out of Preparing Your Own Tax Return
BW1368  MAR 03,1998      11:02  PACIFIC      14:02  EASTERN

    Business Editors

    BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 3, 1998--

    Get Organized Now To Save Tax Dollars and Anxiety This Year And Next

    According to the Internal Revenue Service, 50% of American households prepare and file their own tax returns. For too many of these taxpayers, procrastination needlessly turns this annual ritual into a last-minute, anxiety-filled rush to beat the April 15 deadline.
    Are there ways to take the panic out of preparing your own tax return? Yes, says Gary Soiref, a CPA and tax planning expert with Parent McLaughlin Nangle CPAs, Inc., of Boston. "Get organized; that's the key," says Soiref. "Other than knowing the tax rules, organizing the information you need to do a good job in preparing your tax return is the most important thing you can do to make this a less painful experience."
    "Tax time is one of our busiest seasons," says Jim Peters, Executive President of U.S. Stores for Staples, the Office Superstore retail chain based in Westborough, MA. "We have special 'Tax Center' signs to direct people to the supplies that will help them get better organized. Whether you prefer the "hands-on" approach of using a simple ledger pad, a pencil and a calculator or you want to go high-tech with tax preparation software, we've got everything you'll need."
    Here are suggestions from the experts on how to get organized to win the tax return preparation battle:

    - Get the facts. Pull together all your receipts, canceled checks, monthly credit card statements, paid bills, check book register, wage statements, brokerage statements, bank interest statements, business records (if you own a business) and any other information you will need.
    - Have a way to organize this information that works for you. You're going to need to break your data down into various reporting categories, so pick a method of organization that works best for you and get the supplies you need to make this work. Staples has a wide range of products that can help with this. Your organizational method can be as simple as using bright-colored Post-It Notes, colored file folders or a multi-pocket alphabetical file to sort information.
    - Be prepared to research questions that arise. Staples carries the Ernst & Young's Tax Guide 1998 and the J.K. Lasser series of tax books, which include guides for the self-employed and for home-based businesses. "If you have a significant amount of expenses in an area, rather than assuming there is no tax deduction for it, you should research it," says Soiref. "This is why it's important to start in plenty of time; you don't want to be forced to make assumptions on April 14. Look at everything; don't just dismiss a question as being silly."
    - Consider going high-tech. Tax preparation software packages, such as TurboTax or Kiplinger TaxCut can really cut down on the time spent preparing your tax return. Staples has a full range of these products, as well as financial software such as Quicken 98 and Microsoft Money, which will help you track and summarize your financial information in preparation for doing your tax return at year end.

    Soiref advises that the best way of all to take the panic out of tax return preparation is to make it a year-round process. "Change from being reactive to proactive when it comes to preparing your tax return," he says. "In the long run, it is much less stressful and easier if you start now to do the things that will make next spring's tax return a breeze to prepare." To help you make next year's tax return process even easier, Staples suggests:

    - If you decide to use tax preparation software next year, buy it in time to get thoroughly familiar with it. Also, if you use financial software, keep your entries up to date and learn about the various reports such software can produce. "These programs produce all sorts of reports that are very handy in terms of helping you analyze your financial situation," says Soiref. "But even if you don't use a computer for this purpose, you can still get organized by buying some color-coded file folders and labels to separate your receipts, checks and other information that you will eventually need for tax return preparation."
    - Keep everything in one place. Consider getting a filing cabinet, perhaps even one on wheels if you're short on space. In addition to having one easy place to keep this year's recording, experts recommend keeping copies of tax returns indefinitely, and the supporting documentation for your returns should be kept at least six years. Since part of being organized is not having old, unneeded records hanging around, Staples also has paper shredders to help you purge your file of financial information that is older than these guidelines.
    Staples currently operates 749 office products superstores world wide. This includes 692 stores in more than 150 markets across the U.S. and Canada, as well as 40 stores in the United Kingdom and 17 in Germany. The company operates a telephone order business, Staples Direct, and also has a contract stationer operations called Staples Business Advantage and Staples National Advantage, which serve the needs of large regional and national corporations, respectively.

     CONTACT: Schneider & Associates
              Ellen Weintraub or Sara Gottman, (617) 536-3300
              Jean Papagni, (508) 370-8727