Are You Organized for Tax Time?

Organized for Tax TimeWhether you do your own taxes, or have them done by someone else, it’s hard to prepare for tax time if your paperwork is a mess!

It will take only a few minutes to gather up the pertinent documents if you have good year-round paper management habits. Here’s what I mean:

Figure out which documents you need

Here is a list from the IRS: Gathering Essential Documents for Next Filing Season. You probably already know by now which ones apply to you.

Decide how long should you keep them

This goes for all papers, not just tax documents. And, yes, I said YOU decide. Everyone’s situation is a little different, and you know your situation better than I do. You will keep different papers if you have kids, or own a house, or have a pending insurance claim or unsettled estate in your family, than if you don’t. But guidelines are helpful, and here’s one I like from financial guru Suze Orman: Financial Clutter, What To Keep And What To Get Rid Of.

Now, here’s the trick: If, for example, you’ve decided to keep insurance policies for only the life of the policy, like I do (usually 6 months or 1 year, depending on the type of policy), you really do need to file the new one when you receive it so you always know where it is. And you really do need to remove the old one, so that your files don’t become overcrowded and difficult to manage. OK?

Make things easier for next year by creating systems that work for you:

A system for the Flow of Paper is one of my Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs!

Use an action file for taming mystery piles of paper on a daily basis.

Simplify your filing system so that it makes sense to you, you like it, and you actually use it.

Maintain a relatively clutter-free office.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Pay someone to prepare your tax returns if you can’t, or don’t want to, do it yourself. It will be money well spent. Consult your financial advisor or accountant on money questions, and your attorney on legal questions. Call your professional organizer if you need help getting and staying organized!

Are YOU organized for tax time?

What do you think would make things easier for you?

Please share in the comments below!

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Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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Comments

  1. Great post, Hazel! So many people hate preparing their papers for tax time. I’m one of the oddballs in that I actually enjoy it. It’s gotten easier over the years because of how I manage the finances throughout the year. Receipts etc… are logged into Quicken, so pulling year-end reports makes getting financials to the accountant so much easier. The physical papers are filed throughout the year so that accessing them for tax time is also easy. No hunting piles are necessary. I also help many of my clients prepare tax summaries and papers for their accountants.

    • I think it dredges up all sorts of unpleasant issues for some folks: Am I making enough money? Are my papers organized? Am I smart enough to do this? What’s changed this year that I don’t know about? Do I trust my tax preparer? Is my situation normal? Etc. Etc. Sounds like you’ve got it down to a fine science!

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