know what they say about death and taxes, right? April 15th is as
unavoidable as seeing a Kardashian on a check-out line magazine cover. So what
are you waiting for? Time to get your tax papers in order.
tax code may be complicated but getting ready to file your taxes needn't be. We
like the simple, three-folder solution suggested by leading investment site the
Motley Fool.com. Grab three folders, label them "income," "expenses
and deductions," and "investments" and use the folders
year-round to corral paperwork. For easy filing come April, keep a blank sheet
of paper in your income folder and note all income sources as they occur. By
keeping a running tab, you'll save time later. If you're late to the game and
haven't been organizing on an on-going basis, set aside 15 minutes a day to
sift through and order your paperwork.
the time required to fill out tax paperwork by getting all your ducks in a row
before you sit down. You'll need the social security numbers for everyone in
your family including your spouse and children. Be sure you have all W-2 forms
and any other income forms. Unsure of what documents you need? Use past tax
returns as a guide for the current year, or if you use a pro, request a
checklist of required paperwork. You can also download checklists here.
you have your paperwork in order, be sure to pay attention to your deductions. If
you take a lot of deductions, create individual files for the major categories
(medical, charity, etc.) Take only a few deductions? Use a catch-all envelope
marked by year.
you in line for a tax refund? Boost your chance of a better refund with
effective record keeping. Charitable deductions are a great example; you'll
need receipts to takes those deductions. And professional development expenses
such as trade publications and professional dues can all be deducted if you
keep receipts. Ditto expenses racked up for home businesses such as office
equipment, phone and even utilities. Don't forget child-care; this big ticket
item really adds up.
Not to Do
makes mistakes from time to time but an IRS return is not the place to do so.
Common mistakes include math errors and missing or incorrect information. Other
top goofs include choosing the wrong filing status (you can't be single AND
married) and forgetting to sign your forms (doh!). Proof, proof, proof before
you sign and submit.
tax season may be all about paper but there is one way to reap the benefits of digital:
the IRS is now app-friendly so you can check the status of your return on your
phone or iPad.
Good tips! Simple but useful.
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.