Time to get out the proverbial shoebox overflowing with papers. It’s tax season again — a time that can really exacerbate disorganized people’s disorganization.
There is a better way. You know that. But what you may not know is — what is a better way?
Here are my top 10 tax tips (for paper or digital records):
1. Sort your records into major categories such as income, investments, medical, donations, quarterly taxes paid and miscellaneous expenses (e.g., childcare, education). For paper records, use products like a binder, accordion folder or file folders. Label all categories.
2. When appropriate, create subcategories (e.g., one for each investment source).
3. Get rid of envelopes and unnecessary accompanying information.
4. Set a deadline well enough in advance of April 15 to get your returns prepared, whether you do them or hire a tax preparer. A deadline is a great time-management tool to get things done on time.
5. A risk of filing your return too soon is that you won’t have received all income documents. To prevent that, create a checklist of individual investment accounts. Note all income received during the year and when you receive forms like 1099-INT and 1099-DIV.
6. Check with your financial adviser on which records to keep and for how long.
7. File tax records, upon receipt, throughout the year. Risk of losing documents is minimized and tax preparation is much easier and less stressful.
8. Store returns properly and not in unfinished spaces like the basement, garage or attic that are exposed to conditions like extreme temperatures, humidity and dryness, and infestations.
9. Once you finalize an organizational system that works well, use it for subsequent tax-year records.
10. If you haven’t yet started, start soon.
Having disorganized records may mean your tax preparer will charge for additional time, important documents may get lost and deductions may be missed. By following the above tips, you will get everything to which you are entitled. Make tax preparation much simpler!
Product of the Month
Lay-N-Go Activity Mat
This 5′ diameter mat has plenty of room for kids to spread out lots of toy parts and build their creations. Pull the drawstring and the mat converts to a sealed, soft storage bag that holds all the pieces. No more sorting small toy pieces. Lined with 100% nylon, it has a tough, water repellent surface that you can wipe clean. A wide shoulder strap makes it easy to transport. It comes in blue, green or pink. Due to choking and entanglement hazards, the manufacturer recommends it for children four and older. For more information or to purchase it for $64.95 on the manufacturer’s Web site, click here.
Quote of the Month
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” ~ Arthur Ashe
Product mentions are provided as a courtesy. No endorsement by An Organized Approach™ is made or implied.