While shoveling the driveway the other day, my Alaskan Malamute Oscar joined me outside as a true snow expert and keen observer of human behavior. As I huffed and puffed my way up and down the driveway, he was perfectly happy to settle into the snow, cross his big paws and just watch. He probably could only wonder why in the world I didn't just lay down in the snow and take advantage of this awesome January day. Here is to hoping you enjoy January as much as Oscar.

Hello fellow taxpayers!

This week I have a link to an awesome blog post about how to choose a tax preparer from a blogger who I greatly admire. Follow this link to watch a video about things to look for when deciding who should do your return. The post is full of lots of good information so be sure to check it out at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2016/01/18/12-questions-to-ask-when-choosing-a-tax-preparer/#4336623b2145

For all you Schedule A itemizers, as you clean out your closets this year, don’t undervalue your charitable tendencies. If you didn’t keep track of your donations last year, resolve to do so this year. The IRS only allows a $500 deduction of goods (clothing, furniture, household items) if you don’t have a receipt from the organization you donated to. By keeping records of your donations, not only can you ensure the deduction, but you can add to it by claiming the charitable miles. Charitable miles should be recorded every time you drive to drop off your donations or volunteer your time. AnchorI use the TripLog (https://triplogmileage.com) app on my phone and it does a great job.

Not everyone is thinking about taxes quite yet, but I wanted to let you know that it isn’t too early to start gathering your documents. A return cannot be filed without a W-2, but your preparer can still get started with the information you do have. Employers should have W-2s out to their employees by January 31. If you own a small business, you will be miles ahead to get that bookkeeping out of the way sooner rather than later. The bookkeeping task doesn’t go away, but the memory of that $24.95 miscellaneous expense from November will fade quickly.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable last week in January. We made it through the seemingly longest month of the year. Good Job!