Have you filed your taxes yet? I finished ours two weekends ago, and it feels so good to have that done for the year. I am sharing this post to help those of you who haven’t yet filed, as well as those of you who find yourself in a disorganized mess every year at tax time.
Even if you personally don’t file your taxes – whether it’s your spouse or an accountant – these tips will help you as a member of the household.
#1 Sort The Paperwork
When we receive the first W2 or 1099 in January, I immediately create a folder for that tax year. Any tax documents that come in the mail between then and tax time go directly into that folder.
I keep a folder all year long where I put medical statements and receipts, property tax invoices and receipts, charitable giving statements and anything else I think I might need for tax time.
The first thing I do is to sort all of those papers into categories – W2’s, 1099’s, medical, mileage, property tax, etc.
#2 Organize The Data
This is important whether you file your own or prepare them for an accountant. I create a spreadsheet to add up and track all the numbers contained in that paperwork. This can be as basic or as detailed as you need. Here’s a made-up example of a basic spreadsheet I might make for a list of itemized business expenses:
Once I finish filing our taxes, I include this with the rest of that year’s tax documents (in that folder I created in January). The digital copy is saved on my computer with the rest of our tax documents. I’ve never had to reference these after filing, but it is good to know that if I had to show where the totals originated – I could!
If I was preparing this to hand over to our accountant, here’s a more detailed version I would make for that:
It has to be done! Personally, we’ve used Free Tax USA for the past 6 years. It’s easy to use and stores your information from year to year, saving me lots of data entry! Our taxes aren’t extremely complicated, but we do have the “self employed” factor that makes it a little bit fun.
I have absolutely no accounting advice to offer you. I’m not an accountant. As a regular person who doesn’t have an accountant, I like using Free Tax USA and would definitely recommend it!
#4 Organize Your Paperwork
This is a lot like step 1. Go back through those piles you made and pull out anything that you don’t need to keep. Shred it.
I like to put all the tax-related papers from step 1 and 2 back into that folder I labeled for the tax year. Anything else that needs to be filed in my home office system is taken care of immediately, including my “tax year” folder.
Happy Tax Season (is that an oxymoron or what?!)! I’ve included a look at my mini kitchen office below, where you can see my tax season folders in action!