For most United States citizens, taxes are due tomorrow. So how to keep things organized enough to prepare your taxes with ease (or at least find the necessary documents for your tax preparer) next year? Hopefully the following three tips will make you or your CPA smile broadly when tax season returns.
1. Create and embrace a home filing system and use it regularly. Hands-down, this is the easiest way that I’ve found to keep track of all those documents that accompany state and federal tax returns. A good filing system can save you hours of time and can help you feel frazzle-free throughout the year, and especially when preparing your taxes (or your back-up documents for someone else to use). In my humble opinion, every second you spend creating your filing system is well worth it.
2. Keep tabs on your piggy bank year-round. In addition to helping you stay on budget, this provides you with regular opportunities to make note of your philanthropy and other tax document line items. Keeping track of these things throughout the year reduces the need for a lengthy adding machine or calculator session a few weeks before taxes are due.
3. “They” recommend that you keep all tax-related paperwork for seven years. In this case, it’s an especially good idea to do what “they” tell you to do. So pick up some accordion files. As soon as tax season is over, put the most recent tax documents in an appropriately labeled accordion file. While you’re at it, take some time to file the seven previous years’ tax documents, sorted by year, in separate accordion file folders. Store these folders in a dry, secure place.
Tip: For more details on what paperwork to keep, check out this New York Times article.
If you embrace other organization practices that work wonders during tax season, we’d love to know about them. Your wisdom could benefit others when posted in a future blog entry.
* Photo by djshaw