Stop. Breath. Don't let your haste cost you hundreds of dollars.

The IRS begins accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, but I caution you to wait until all forms have been sent to you so that you may avoid filing an amendment(s).

All forms should arrive to you by Feb. 15. Keep in mind these forms are official forms and are duplicates of what was sent to the IRS. These forms are part of your file with the IRS.

The forms you should be looking for are:

-- W-2's-wages

-- 1099 INT/1099 DIV/1099 B-Interest, dividends, investments

-- 1098 T-tution

-- 1098 E-student loan interest

-- 1099 MISC-Self-employed income

-- W-2G-gambling

-- 1098 mortgage statement

If you are one of those dreading this time, a way to combat the stress is to prepare throughout the year for your timely filing. Do not put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

All it takes is a file folder, a few re-sealable plastic bags and a permanent marker. Throughout the year, keep your receipts in separate bags that you prepare with a permanent marker. You can label them in categories of charitable gifts, taxes, college, day care, business expenses, etc. This will ensure you have all tax items in one spot. Being organized is key to reducing the stress of tax time.

If you are one of the many anticipating a large tax return and intend to pay off debt or take a family vacation, you do not need to wait until tax time to do this. I suggest you take the time and review your W-4 withholding. It is fairly straight forward when figuring how much you should be withholding. Just follow these steps.

Are you going to file as married with spouse, married without spouse, single without children or single with children?

Count how many individuals you will include on your return. Include yourself, spouse and all dependents (children, parents and other family members you support).

Here are a few examples:

Single with no children- Single with one exemption.

Single parent with two children- Single with three exemptions.

Married (spouse not working) with two children-Married with four exemptions.

Married and spouse works with one child-you and spouse would elect to split the total exemptions but both would have W4 reflect married.

Having the proper tax taken out throughout the year should yield less than a $1,000 return. If your return is larger, then you are essentially giving the IRS an interest free loan.

Proper withholding will allow you and your family to buy the things you need throughout the year with cash instead of charging or will allow you and your family to save throughout the year for your family vacation.

If you are unsure about your withholding, contact one of the financial counselors at Army Community Service for assistance; 573.596.0212.

The IRS is expecting to have returns to taxpayers within three weeks; however, some returns that are claiming Additional Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Credit are expected to be issued starting Feb. 27.

(Editor's note: Fink is a financial counselor at ACS.)