How Do You Keep Your Tax Documents Organized?

Clay Rose | January 25th, 2013

It’s mid-January. Statistically, most Americans have already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions – those promises you make to yourself to hit the gym, get more sleep and read your favorite accounting blog every day (hey, it was worth a shot). But if you resolved to be more organized in 2013, don’t give up on it just yet – at least not until April 15.

This tax filing season carries extra challenges, thanks to the late passage of the “Fiscal Cliff” tax laws. The IRS isn’t going to be able to process tax returns until around February 1, which gives us a much smaller window of opportunity.

Follow these tips to stay organized this tax season and hopefully experience a few fewer headaches with Uncle Sam’s name on them.

First, establish a place to keep all of the tax information you receive in the mail. Many of the documents we will ask you for (including the tax organizer package that you should receive soon) have the words “Tax Documents Enclosed” printed on the envelope. A large envelope or a file folder is a great option to store these documents as they come to you. Most of these documents should be in your hands by the first week in February.

Use the tax organizer package as a reminder of the important documents you may receive that are necessary to file a complete tax return – like W-2s, 1099s and 1098s. After you feel you have everything you need, take the time to go through your stack of documents and compare it to the listings in the tax organizer in order to verify that nothing is missing. As soon as you think you have everything, deal with the pain, and put it behind you.

If your tax returns include income and expenses for business, rental or farm, please be certain to review and summarize your income and expenses for those activities. The tax organizer is a good tool for this, as it provides you with the different categories of income and expenses that we have used in previous years.

What else should go in your tax organizer?  See a more exhaustive list in my previous post on tax organization.

One more thing: charitable contributions. When it comes to listing charitable contributions, it is important that you provide us with the names of the charities you donated to, and the amount you gave them. If you received a letter acknowledgement from a charity, please include it with your information. If you made a gift of clothing or household items to a charity, we need to know three things at a minimum: what you gave, who you gave it to and what it was worth.

And most of all, happy tax season!

Tax Organization Help

Are your documents a little less than organized?  Need some help getting everything ready for April 15?  Contact Rea & Associates.  Our Ohio tax services team will help you get your taxes organized and filed on time.  Need a little longer?  We’ll help you file for an extension and work with you to get everything in order before your new deadline.  April 15 will be here before you know it, so contact Rea for tax help today.

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