Tax season is upon us. There I said it. I know. It’s horrible to think about but it’s true. The TV is flooded with various tax related commercials and April 17th will be here before we know it. So, let’s spend some time talking about how to organize your office for tax season.
Now before I dive deep into the trenches, let me remind you, I am NOT a tax accountant. Nor am I offering any kind of tax advice. I am simply sharing some suggestions on how to organize your documents to make tax season run a little more smoothly. Also, please note that everyone’s tax situation is different, and varies based on your assets, income, deductions, whether you work from home or own a business.
Steps to Organize your Office for Tax Season
1. Create a specific container for organizing your tax documents with separate folders for income and deduction categories – This could be almost anything from a 13-pocket accordion file folder, a portable file box, or a filing organizer such as this one that I purchased from 31 years ago. (Sorry friends. These are no longer available.)
Be sure to label your individual files with the following sections:
- general information
- financial reports
- tax filing
- investment records
- bank statements
- credit card statements
- income documents
- charitable deductions
- medical expenses
- miscellaneous expenses
- child care expenses
- business expenses
2. Create a custom tax document organization checklist for your particular situation – I’ve created this checklist you can use and fill in with the necessary information that relates to you and your specific situation so you never forget a document.
Prepare your Receipts
3. Compile, label, scan and organize your receipts – It is time to gather up all those receipts you’ve got scattered throughout the house, your wallet, or your purse. If you haven’t done so along the way, label them with the proper categories they belong to. If you label them as you go, you’ll remember what the specific receipt was for and save time down the line. Next, scan your receipts. I recently purchased the Epson Rapid Receipt scanner, which makes this task simple, especially if you do it as you get a receipt, or once per month. Once you’ve scanned them, be sure to organize them into their proper tax category.
4. Declutter your desk – Now that you’ve gotten everything gathered and took the time to organize your office for tax season, it is time to declutter your desk. Put away any unnecessary office supplies. File any paperwork. Dust. Vaccum. Give it a deep clean and consider this a fresh start.
5. Create a spread sheet to document any charitable donations – If you are someone who makes a lot of charitable contributions throughout the year, whether that is physical donations to a local charity, or cash donations to other non-profits, it’s a good idea to keep a spread sheet to track those donations throughout the year. If you track them throughout the year, it will be easier when filing season comes around and can be used year in and year out.
Schedule your Tax Appointment
6. Schedule tax preparation time on your calendar – If you prepare your own taxes, be sure to schedule time to complete them. Block off an entire weekend, or schedule a few hours each day. But keep your appointments with yourself. If you have a tax professional prepare your taxes on your behalf, schedule a time to drop them off and get them started.
7. Establish a secure place for your tax documents – Figure out where you are going to store your documents. A filing cabinet works great, as does a bankers’ box. Store your tax documents somewhere that you can access them; however, that does not need to be in your office, as you probably won’t need to access them very often, if at all.
8. Shred documents you no longer need – Get rid of it! Don’t keep anything you don’t need. Shred it and you’ll be ready for next year!
Lastly, please keep in mind, according to the IRS, the length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event which the document records. Generally, you must keep your tax records that support an item of income, deduction or credit shown on your tax return until the period of limitations for that tax return runs out, which can be as long as 7 years.
I hope these 8 tips on how to organize your office for tax season, helps you to check this dreaded task of your to do list and makes it a little less painful this year.
Here’s to organizing your office for tax season and RESETTING your life!
Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.” – CHRISTINA SCALISE
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