Tax season is in full swing! Have you filed your taxes? If not, have you filed for an extension?
This year’s Federal tax return is not due until Monday, April 18th. Even with three extra days, many people are finding themselves scrambling to locate all the documentation needed so they, or their accountant, can file their taxes. If your taxes are already done, congratulations! Did it go smoothly, or were you stressed out and worried because you couldn’t find everything you needed? Tax season doesn’t have to be filled with stress and anxiety, but being organized is the key! If you have a system in place to store and easily retrieve all necessary tax paperwork, you can forgo the scramble and frustration caused by missing documentation. If this year’s tax season was a frenzy, set up a tax paperwork filing system now so next year will go smoothly!
I always recommend using your most recent tax return as a guide, a sort of checklist of what documents you will need next year. Of course, your tax situation might change which would add additional requirements, but you can always add those to your list. Take that checklist and dedicate one spot in your home or home office for anything related to taxes (income documents, expense receipts, charitable donations, etc.). Depending on the complexity of your tax situation, this can be a filing cabinet, a drawer, an accordion file folder, or even a shoe box. Just like organizing anything else, the receptacle doesn’t matter as much as the process! You have to get in the habit of putting all tax paperwork into your chosen place as soon as you get it. If you open a piece of mail that is related to your taxes, don’t let yourself get distracted and put the paper down on the counter. If you do, it could get buried under a pile of papers and you could end up wasting time looking for it later. As soon as you file the paper, check it off your checklist so you have a running tally of everything that is still outstanding before you can submit your taxes.
If you donate goods throughout the year, be sure to file an itemized list with your donation receipt. Since your employer is supposed to send you various tax forms, it is always a good idea to mark January 31 on your calendar as a reminder that all tax documents should be received. When you see the reminder pop up, you can check your tax file and follow-up on anything not yet received.
Filing your taxes can be less frustrating and less time consuming if you are confident you’ve got everything in one place and available at a moment’s notice.
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