Being the daughter of a CPA, I can say I might be a little more neurotic than most when it comes to keeping my finances in order. I keep all of my receipts and organize them by month, and save them for an entire year. (You can check out my post about keeping my filing cabinet organized by clicking here!) I sort out bills into different file folders and store the current months bill in the back (even though it drives my husband nuts). I start a new file folder for my tax documents the day I submit my previous year’s documents.
The last one might sound crazy, but it’s actually really helpful to have a folder already assigned to my taxes for the next tax season. I simply take out a new file filer, label it, and I’m done. Now why would I do something as silly as this, you may ask. Well, let me tell you…By already writing on a folder, you will be more likely to just put your donation receipts, business receipts, etc., directly into that folder instead of waiting until April 14th to pull your documents together.
This is very useful for me, as I am always donating small amounts of items, such as toys, clothes, kitchen gadgets, etc. Once I have organized and cleaned an area of the house, or the donation bin is full, I load up the car and go drop off my donations at a local donation center. I simply keep a pen in the car, write what I donated before I drive away from the donation center, and put that receipt in the tax file folder as soon as I get home (or as soon as I remember to clean out the front seat of my car). Boom…I just saved myself some trouble trying to figure out how much I donated because I have been doing it all year long!
Now, if you aren’t as crazy as I am, here are some recommendations for getting you organized this year (and hopefully in years to come)! These recommendations were made by James Bomberg of Bomberg, Roach and Hanson, PLLC. James has over 30 years experience under his belt, along with trying to teach a horrendous mathematician for a daughter. (Numbers, directions and dates are just not my strong suit. But lucky for me, organizing is, which is why I am able to organize my taxes, I just don’t have to do them!)
Tips From The Professionals:
– Take out last years return and make a list of items you will need. This is an incredibly useful way to figure out what documents you will need without collecting items just based on memory alone! If you wanted to be super, over-achiever, you could write down or print off a list and attach it to your file folder for all of your tax documents.
– Take your time and collect your deductions. Create an itemized deduction list of such things as your mortgage, interest, contributions, cash donations and non-cash donations like clothing, toys, etc. From my experience, if you are a teacher, you can deduct up to $250 on school supplies…I am well aware that you spend WAY more than that!
– List any new business activities and the various expenses associated with them. This one is pretty self explanatory. There can be a lot of start-up costs with new businesses, so don’t forget to document those costs.
– Don’t forget about your car, student loans, marriage, babies, unemployment, job hunting, moving expenses, medical expenses if you itemize, military reverse expenses, energy-efficient home improvement projects, or the trips to the post office. All of these things are useful information for documenting for tax purposes. Take advantage wherever you can!
As you are probably feeling the pressure to get all of your ducks in a row, take a second to look at last years return and start there. Make a list, get out a file folder or bin to collect your documents, and start gathering up your items. Once you have a grasp on the items you needed last year, see if there are any other new changes that you could add to your documents as listed above, like did you get married, have a baby, started looking for a new job? Find documentations for these items to add. And if all else fails, go talk to a CPA! They are here to help! So what are some ways you try to organize your taxes? Are you as crazy as I am with starting a file folder in March? Or do you wait until the last minute to collect your documents? I’d love to hear!