January…. that time of year when your mailbox and email will be filled with tax forms and other paperwork that you’ll need to prepare your annual taxes. It can be easy to miss something when you are checking your mail and email, because everything essential will be commingled with less important mail. Here are our tips to getting tax paperwork organized, included a free printable that can help you keep track of things.
Note that this post is not guaranteed to be a complete list of what you’ll need. Also, not everything listed will be relevant to your tax situation. This starting point is only appropriate for individuals, and not for businesses. Use this as a starting point, and be sure to consult with a qualified tax professional.
Tips for Getting Tax Paperwork Organized
Put Together a List of Everything You Will Need
Make a list, adding in every piece of documentation that you may need for your specific tax situation. You may also consider going through last year’s taxes to see what paperwork you needed. Starting with a list is a good way to make sure that you know exactly what you are waiting for. As things arrive in the mail or in your email inbox, you can check them off. If something doesn’t arrive, you’ll know exactly who to follow up with.
While not every donation is guaranteed to be tax deductible, if you have a CPA, you may want to bring him or her everything you have. Remember things like donations to schools and to runs/charity events your friends may have participated in. Also be sure you are providing your accountant with a list of items you’ve donated.
Get a folder or a bin, and use it to collect all of your paperwork as it arrives. Check it off on your list, and add it to the folder or bin (depending on how much documentation you are expecting to receive). I like to put my folder in a convenient location, so that I’m easily able to add things. Don’t let papers sit on the counter – it’s best to put it in the folder immediately as you receive it.
The same goes for things that you may receive in your email. It’s best to print them out as soon as you receive them so you don’t forget later.
Make an Appointment
If you see a tax professional, it’s a good idea to make an appointment as soon as you can. Depending on who you see, they may book up quickly. It’s always good to get your taxes done as soon as possible so you know whether you owe or are getting money back. It’s also a relief to get it over with, so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.
Keep Track of Everything For Next Year
Once you are done with your taxes, you can save lots of time next year by preparing now. Make a copy of the list that you customized, so you’ll already know what paperwork you are waiting for next year. You can also prepare a folder for next year, and start adding in receipts that you receive throughout the year.