Amazingly enough, we are approaching the most wonderful time of the year. No silly, I’m not referring to Christmas since that’s obviously quite a few months away. I’m referring to tax season! Hip hip, hooray! You see, I figure if I act really excited about it, then maybe by default, I will actually be excited about it. So far, it’s not working. In order to rid myself of the tax blues, I sat down with my trusty copy of “Organize Now!” by Jennifer Ford Berry, and decided to tackle the paperwork. With a cup of fresh brewed coffee in hand (at 5:42 at night, no less), I attempt to take this project on!
Let me just preface this by saying that I do generally try to keep my paperwork in appropriate folders throughout the year. My attempt is feeble though because I often get lazy and don’t file as smart as I should. But that’s life, and we deal with it when the time comes, right? This year, my goal is to have an organizer prepared prior to the tax documents arriving in the mail. I can’t help but assume that if I already have a place to put it from get go, then I should have no problem putting it away properly.
In “Organize Now!” , Jennifer writes “The key to keeping your papers organized is to stay on top of them. Make sure you have a home for each and every type of paper that comes your way. Half the battle of any organizing task is to decide where to put it. So if you have a home already decided upon, you just have to place it there.”
Sounds easy enough, right?
First things first, I went through our office supplies to find a home for the paperwork that would work well enough with our taxes. Once I had that in hand, I made a cover sheet so I knew exactly what was in the binder. (Ignore the pink hue. I thought when I bought the binder it would actually be pink! But no, it’s a white binder with a pink tinted cover! Such deceit!)
Click here to download: Microsoft Office Cover Template
Next, I made a list of all of the paperwork we’ve needed to present to our accountant in past years.
- W-2 Forms
- School Expenses
- Medical Expenses
- Auto Expenses
- Mortgage Information
- Home Improvement Expenses
- Investment Information
Time for labels! I must head on over to ole’ faithful (Microsoft Word), and get to printing!
Click here to download: Avery Label #5366 Template
Once the labels were printed, I affixed them to dividers I already had in the house.
After that, I made sure to put at least one page protector in between each divider, as a place to slide papers in as they come in. Once that was all said and done, I created a document in Microsoft Word that will stand to be a “running total” of the amounts in each section. For instance, I’ll add up the receipts for cost of text books and write it in the appropriate box. This will make it easier for your accountant if they are doing it, or yourself if you are doing your own taxes. It’s also a good reference if you aren’t doing your own taxes, because it’ll make it shave time off double checking prior to submission to the IRS.
Click here to download: Microsoft Office Breakdown Template
Voila! The binder is complete!
After all is said and done, I’ve got a great start to keeping a streamline tax binder once all of the documents start rolling in. Having this already made will most certainly save me a lot of time, and a major headache, once it’s time to get all of the documents gathered. I just love when a plan comes together!
What are you doing to get prepared for tax season?
Love, J and A