Pull Your Taxes Together Faster: 3 Tools To Help You Be More Organized

Like most people, you recently received a thick packet from your tax preparer that needs to be completed and returned along with copies of documents so they can prepare your tax returns. The “documents” keep arriving in the mail and if it even hints at being “tax-like” you save it…somewhere.

I’ve never heard anyone be excited about getting their tax information together. Most people delay up until the last possible moment. They hunt around for everything in the “somewhere” pile and are not pleasant to be around until the task is finished. Don’t let this be you this year!

Instead, here are some simple tools to make your tax preparation task more organized and less stressful.

  1. Create a tax year folder. Get out a manila folder and label it “Taxes- 2011”. (While you are at it, create a folder for next year too – label it “Taxes – 2012”.) Now as the documents arrive, put them in the appropriate folder so everything is in one place. Your somewhere pile has a defined place now!  Throughout the year we accumulate tax specific receipts such as charitable contribution letters, DMV bills and property tax statements. Place these papers in the file for next tax year as you go and you won’t have to hunt around this time next year.
  2. Create a Tax Return Checklist. In a word processing document, start listing all of the forms you need to receive to complete your tax return and send to your tax preparer. Add any special notes to help you remember when it arrives or who to call for another copy. (Many of the forms are also online at your financial institutions.) Add check boxes so you can check off when the document arrives. Leave room for special or new items. Print the form out and keep it right inside your tax year folder discussed above. Start using it as the documents arrive. Note – expect to update the form a few years in a row until you get everything down or when you have a change. We create it in an electronic document so you can quickly get a fresh version each year that is customized to you.
  3. Create a Tax Return Mini-Worksheet. Your tax preparer gives you a thick worksheet to complete and return to them. You compile and write your numbers on this worksheet and after you send them in, they’re gone. This was of course after you spent hours trying to remember how you pulled the numbers together. You look at your tax return from last year and then your system for keeping track of your income and expenses. You fiddle around until the memory starts to return. Sound familiar? In a word processing or spreadsheet file, create a simple form to record which numbers you gather. Most importantly, write some notes about where the data comes from and any assumptions you used – anything to streamline the task.

As I age I find I need these types of tools to not only help me remember, but to also make a laborious task a bit more bearable. If you are helping someone else pull their info together, like your aging parents, then these tools become invaluable. It’s far easier to remember our own affairs but not so easy to remember someone else’s.

Helping clients pull together their tax information is one of the services we provide. Tools like these allow us to get the job done more quickly. We hope it can for you too at home!

Let us know how these tools work for you or how we can help you.

Warmly,

Debbie  😛

 

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