Nobody really looks forward to tax time – except maybe tax preparation professionals. The rest of us just want to get through the process with the least amount of work and stress possible. Here’s how you can put together a simple organization strategy that you can apply year after year, say goodbye to the March madness and April anxiety, and put that tax season dread to bed once and for all.
Do a quick sort by category
Just grab your box of statements, bills and receipts, clear off your dining room table, and start sorting into categories. The most common categories are:
- Income such as W-2s and 1099s, Social Security statements, and dividend/interest statements
- Expenses and deductions for health care, property taxes, child care, donations, etc.
- Investments such as stocks and IRAs
Prepare your category piles and you’ve got a great head start!
You’re bound for success
Next, you’ll want to keep all your paperwork together in one place, such as an Avery Heavy-Duty Binder. These durable binders stand up to frequent use, and the One Touch EZD™ locking rings open and close easily when you need to add or remove papers. Plus, with convenient interior pockets, you’ve got a handy place to store loose paperwork or documents that need immediate attention.
Organization with oomph!
Want to make it easy to reference your categories of paperwork? Organize them with Avery Index Maker® Clear Label Dividers and give each category its own section. Dividers are easy to customize with the free Avery Design & Print Online program. There’s no download required—once you sign in, you’ll get access to our library of blank and pre-designed templates for all your project needs. Select the template that fits your Avery Index Maker Divider product, fill in your categories, then print, peel and apply the labels to your divider tabs. The clear labels virtually disappear when applied, giving your dividers a professionally printed look. The result will be a totally buttoned-up presentation of your records. And if you’re having a tax professional do your taxes, your organized paperwork will be a tax preparer’s dream
Build a library of records
Once you get your tax return back, you’ll want to add it to your binder. Print the tax year on your binder spine and keep it on a bookshelf for future reference. For information on how long you should keep specific tax records, visit the IRS website.
Time-saving tip: Much of the information on your return will be useful when filling out the information on next year’s return, especially if there haven’t been major changes in your life such as the addition of a spouse or baby, or buying and selling a home.
Be twice as organized next year
Get set up for next year’s taxes now and you can save lots of time and stress later on. During the year, spend a half hour filing your tax-related paperwork at the end of every month, and your tax time organization will be virtually done when tax time rolls around next year. Won’t that be a nice change!