March 2010 Update ~ Though this post was originally written in November 2008, I’ve decided to dust it off and revise it a bit as tax time just around the corner. I hope you find the tips helpful this second time around, and wish you a very simple and organized tax season. ~Deb
Do you know where your tax documents are? If you go searching every year for the paperwork you need, try something different this time. There’s no greater feeling than finding what you’re looking for in less than 3 minutes. Well, maybe there are other great feelings out there, but this one ranks high on my list.
So, follow these two steps and you’ll be well on your way to quickly finding what you need for your accountant.
1. Corral & Categorize Your Receipts. Oh where, oh where can your receipts be? Stuffed under a mattress, in the cup holder in your car, or at the bottom of your bag? Maybe you have them in a ziplock bag or a shoe box (that’s a good start!). No matter where they are, gather them up, dust ‘em off, and categorize them every month. Here are some potential categories:
- Charitable Donations *The IRS is getting pretty particular about these receipts, so hang on to them.
- Medical & Dental Expenses
- Car & Fuel Expenses
- Childcare Expenses
This is how I store my receipts throughout the year. After each purchase, I put the receipts in a specific area of my wallet (still do, actually), and then I transfer them to this handy dandy case when I get home.
This is the handy little case I used for receipts. Cute, isn’t it? I got it at Staples.
I labeled each tab to track specific receipts. If you prefer a binder with tabs, check out the Big EZ Receipt Storage Book.
Since writing the original post, I discovered a great tech way of tracking receipts. Enter the Neat Desk. All you techies who find that your receipts are morphing into a nice paper carpet in your office or car (not a good look), this might very well be the right product for you. Lucky me, I won mine on Twitter!
2. Create a File for Other Tax Documents. Use a folder or a large envelope for any other tax papers that you’ll need to submit to your tax preparer. Label the folder/envelope with the tax year and anything else that will remind you of what’s in there, like “2012 Taxes.” Yes, you’ll still be paying taxes in 2012.
Here’s a partial list of what should be in that file…
- Mortgage Interest Statement
- Property Tax Statement
- Investment Info
- Retirement Info
- Student Loan Interest
Click here for a tax information checklist but be sure to talk with your tax preparer about your specific situation. You can also use software like to help you along.
So, make nice with your receipts. The taxman will thank you.
P.S. This post is courtesy of M.M., a Facebook friend who asked for tips (back in November 2008) on getting ready for taxes.
- Business owners can avoid common tax time pitfalls (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Time to think about your 2006 taxes (dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com)