5 Tips For Organizing Your Taxes
1. Know your stuff. It is vital to know what kind of information you should be collecting and keeping track of in order to do your taxes. Talk to your accountant, do some research or read best-selling tax books about your specific situation (i.e. own a small business or pay student loan debt), so that you know exactly what information you need to gather throughout the year. That brings us to the next tip…
2. Keep a running list. There are all kinds of documents that you could need for organizing your taxes, so keep a running list of the records you should gather every year.
My list is a Microsoft Word document that I can easily edit if necessary. Every year when I’m organizing my taxes, I refer to the list and gather exactly what my accountant needs. He absolutely loves it, and it really minimizes how long it takes for him to do my taxes (which saves me money). It’s a win-win!
My list looks like this:
Documents to Gather for Tax Returns
Income (consulting services, referral fees, website ads, affiliate programs, book sales, husband’s income)
- Expenses (totals, totals by category, student load interest, husband’s expenses)
- Mileage (business, personal, husband’s, total)
- Interest (bank accounts)
- End of year financial statements & tax forms
- Quarterly tax payments (copies of checks & pay stubs)
- IRA contribution records
- Donations (receipts, confirmation letters, calculate value of donated goods)
- Any other tax forms received in the mail
3. Track daily expenses. This tip for organizing your taxes ties into one of the fundamentals of staying organized – do a little bit every day. It is so overwhelming to look at a huge pile of receipts from the year knowing it’s going to take a while to add them up. Avoid that altogether by keeping track of expenses daily.
First, make sure you know which expenses you need to keep track of (like it says above). On a regular basis (I do it daily but do it every few days or weekly if that works for you), enter your expenses into a program like QuickBooks or scan receipts using a receipt scanner to create a digital filing system. Then at tax time, you can quickly create a report of totals for each category of expenses.
Spending literally a minute or 2 every day to enter my expenses saves me the hours it could take to total the whole year up at once. This is also one of the smart ways to save money if you pay someone to do this. Either way, it’s so worth it!
Thanks so much Nealey Stapleton for sharing her expertise on this topic. Nealey is a fellow Professional Organizer in Northern Virginia.