So, it’s tax season! Yay! Exciting right? I know you’re all so pumped to do your taxes! You’re right, probably not so much. But hopefully, my last post helped simplify the process a little. The goal here is to help make doing your own taxes not so stressful. Because it really doesn’t have to be y’all!
I seriously believe that doing your own taxes (or being fully prepared when you go see your accountant) can make this normally stressful process super duper easy!
So, last time we talked about the basics. Filing status, forms, what you need. All that. If you haven’t read that yet you can go here to read it. Today I just want to give you some tips on staying organized all throughout the year so that next year, when January comes and it’s time for those dreaded taxes, you will be so prepared! Taxes will end up not overwhelming you at all! Who’s down for that? Yea? Me too!
Here are the two things (that’s right just two things!) that I started implementing to keep me organized and prepared:
1 – Find a filing system:
I use a super chic file organizer similar to this one, these adorable hanging files, and folders. Because when it’s cute it’s easier to use right? I use this system to organize bills, taxes, vehicle paperwork, and all other important documents. I use a label maker to label all my folders because it is easier on the eyes and I don’t have to worry about trying to read my own chicken scratch.
Here are the folders I keep for taxes:
Previous Year Tax Returns – You should be keeping 7 years of tax returns and their supporting documents! I keep mine all in one folder. This just prevents me from having to name 7 different files for each of the 7 years. I just have one folder with all previous year documents. I just use binder clips like these to keep each year’s papers together.
Current Year Tax Records – I will throw in any forms that my husband and I get from work that we will need for our taxes. W-2, 1099’s, etc.
Current Year Charitable Contributions – You know all those little receipts that Goodwill gives you when you donate? Or the “Thank You” letters/cards that churches and organizations might send you after you donate money? Yea, you should keep those! And not only should you be keeping them but you should be very specific about what was donated! Giving a bag of clothes to a charity? Look through the bag and write down that you are giving.
It doesn’t have to be so detailed that you list what brands each of your 20 shirts are BUT you should say something like “20 blouses, 3 pairs of jeans, 1 heavy coat”. And you should have a general idea of how much the total would be. Again, you don’t need to go researching how much you bought every item for but an estimate of the total cost. I write all that down and then when I bring home that little donation slip I’ll staple it to my list and put it right in my contributions folder!
Other folders you might have: Mortgage information, tuition documents, bank account info (I have online banking so I don’t really need to keep any paper files for this), rental property, etc. Literally, anything that you might need for taxes should have a folder that you are keeping up with!
2 – File in real time:
The best thing I did was to start keeping up with this in real time. Meaning that anytime I got anything that would need to be filed I don’t throw it on the counter to be filed later or put it in a basket on the table to get lost amongst the junk mail. Nope. I walk right back into the room, find the folder I need, and file that sucker right away.
Keeping up with filing and organization in real time ensures that you will not be scrambling to get all your information when the time comes! It’s such great piece of mind for me when it’s time to sit down and do my taxes. I know everything is there. I don’t have to stress about trying to think of what all I have donated or where my W-2’s might be. Everything is right there, nice and accessible!
That’s it! Two simple little things to keep you organized and uber prepared for tax season. I don’t know about you but this makes taxes exciting! Okay, maybe not so much! BUT it does ease my mind and my blood pressure!
What are some things you all do to stay organized for taxes? Any special filing systems that you’ve fallen in love with? Share in the comments below!