Was last year a little overwhelming when it came to preparing your taxes? Even if you hire a qualified tax accountant, trying to find all of the proper materials and documentation can be stressful for anyone. In fact, if you were overwhelmed, you are not alone. Even if last year may have been stressful, there are a few systems that you can implement to minimize said stress for the 2016 tax season.
Know what records you’ll need.
The best way to keep efficient records is to know what you need to be saving. There are various documents and receipts that you may need to have on hand, depending on what your occupation is, whether or not you donate to charities and whether or not you have a mortgage for your home. Saving receipts for any business expense, such as office supplies and your business’s utility bills is important if you own your own business. Keeping a travel log and records of child care arrangements might be appropriate for your situation as well. You may want to use a large accordion folder to keep everything in place. Having a file system in place is a tried and trusted way to keep all of your tax documents in order. There are also a few technological organizational solutions, including the program Neat. Still, having physical, paper records still may prove to be the best course of action.
Make sure your organization system is easy to use.
Whatever organizational method you select, make sure that it is simple. Staying organized is difficult enough without further complications. An easy to use system is essential because it will make it that much easier for you to stay on top of your efforts. If you have a clunky organizational system, it is doubtful that you will have the motivation to actually use it at all. Keep things labeled and orderly. Remember that while this organizational system is for you only, it should be simple and clear enough that anyone could hypothetically use it. Having an easy to use system is sure to make it possible to keep a more complete compilation of your records. This is great simply due to the fact that the IRS can audit individuals for up to six years. That is, in 2016 an individual could still be audited for 2010. Therefore, it may be advisable to have the documents for the past six years stored away in an organized fashion.
Keep it in sight and in mind.
You will want to set up some type of schedule for keeping your documents organized. Maybe you will file away the proper items after every work day or maybe waiting until the end of the work week will work better. Create a habit. Use alarms, reminders and scheduling to help with building this habit. It will also help to keep your organization method in sight. By keeping it in full view or something that you have to see/walk by every day, there is a better chance of you remembering to use it. If you make it a habit, it becomes almost second nature, making it an easy process.
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