16 April 2014

April 16 is the best day to set up a tax organizing system! Let's talk.

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No more April anxiety! Let's get our taxes organized NOW while the work is fresh in our minds.

What's your best tip for organizing your tax paperwork?

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Here's what works for us: Right after we do our taxes, I pull out a manila envelope, label it for the year, then write a checklist on it: Property taxes; car registration fees; 1099s; W-2s; charitable receipts; mortgage interest; other account interest.

I also write the tax ID # of our child's preschool on the folder, as well as the school's name and address.

We keep the folder in the area where we also file bills, so we can drop papers in there on an as-needed basis.

Since we have a flexible spending account for childcare expenses, I keep a Google docs spreadsheet tracking paycheck deductions, tuition payments and program reimbursements. I also have a Google docs spreadsheet to track charitable donations, and it automatically tallies the amount for me. I have a third spreadsheet to log our telecom expenses, as they're deductible for us.

(Nota bene: I have automated my two primary charitable donations so it's just a matter of tagging the confirmation emails with the tax year in Gmail, and I can cross-reference those against the spreadsheet in ten minutes at tax time.)

Prepping for taxes took 10 minutes this year, mostly because the printer had to warm up before it could print out the three spreadsheets. I just put them in the folder where everything else had been filed as we received it, then headed to the accounant's.

I am awful with details, so this is no organizational miracle tip, but knowing your weaknesses helps. I have envelopes in the car, at my desk, and near where I put the groceries. I tuck receipts in them throughout the year, then when tax times rolls around I know to collect those envelopes rather than ransacking my whole house.

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