Org This: Tackling Tax Paperwork

Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 3:34 AM

You 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.

Corralling Paperwork

The 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 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.

Fact Check

Speed 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. 

Deduct and Save

Once 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.

Want a Refund?

Are 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.  

What Not to Do

Everyone 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.

Finally, 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.




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# Julinda said on Tuesday, February 05, 2013 2:17 PM

Good tips!  Simple but useful.

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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.

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