Agents prep for tax season

January 24, 2017

With tax season here, it's vital for real estate professionals to get their ducks in a row so they can file quickly and easily. This is the kind of prep work many undertake over the course of a few weeks or even months, but some agents get so busy that they often have to cram just before the filing deadline. As such, taking the time to start work now, well before April 15, can be a big benefit.

One of the biggest headaches many agents deal with at this time is figuring out their business expenses, particularly if they don't have a business-only bank and credit card account to pay for them exclusively, according to Inman. This is generally advisable because in the end it saves agents potentially several hours of having to comb through every purchase they made all year and say, "This was personal, that was business." Most agents, fortunately, already do this - and unfortunately for those that haven't yet, the time to make that change for this tax season is now over.

Other smart moves
Another big hassle many professionals face - not just in real estate - is tracking the receipts and invoices they've piled up over the course of the year. To that end, experts recommend making a habit of just taking a picture of those documents with an agent's ever-present smartphone and sending it straight to the cloud so that it's accessible from anywhere and all in one convenient place.

Along similar lines, agents who drive a lot for their jobs - which is, of course, most of them - will also be wise to keep track of their work-related mileage regularly. Logging it with a smartphone app - something as simple as a notepad would work well - means agents won't have to do a ton of math, estimate, or scramble to find real data on this critical aspect of a tax filing.

Learn more about available deductions
Meanwhile, agents who are newer to the real estate sales game might not always know the ins and outs of how they can get the most out of their tax filings, according to Realtor Magazine. Those who work from home and have a dedicated office space in their house may be able to write it off, but doing so can sometimes be a bit tricky. In addition, agents can also write off any marketing and advertising expenses they incur, as well as costs for office supplies and the like. They can even write off meals and entertainment they provide for clients (to a certain extent). But perhaps most important, they're allowed to claim any desk fees they pay every year, as well as those for licenses and professional memberships.

Agents who can follow these simple steps, and dedicate just a few hours a week to tax prep over the course of months, will be more likely to reduce tax-related stress and have more time to devote to their actual jobs. That can be a good idea because the filing deadline is also right around the time the spring buying season really starts ramping up, and well-prepared agents should be able to join the rush with more peace of mind at that time.