Its really a shame that the mere thought of April 15th always puts people in a panic! Year after year, many stress over this time of year, when with a few simple strategies and less than 5-10 minutes a day, tax-time could be a welcomed time of the year. Well, perhaps that’s a bit optimistic, but it doesn’t have to be the dreaded after-the-holidays, I’ve got to deal with this now, time of year.
Here are a few key strategies for organizing your tax papers. If you havent done it for last year, start 2011 off right by tracking down all of your receipts for January and putting them in an envelope until you can get hold of Smeads new products made specifically for tax organization (see below). Now for the simple steps:
1. Use manila 1/3-cut folders and label them with the following categories:
- Bank Statements
- House Bills (mortgage, property tax)
- Charitable Donations
- Last Year’s Return
- Work Expenses
- Credit Card Statements
- Other Income
- Other Expenses
- Other Deductions
- Work Compensation
2. Sort your paperwork into the categories listed above
3. File paperwork in the associated files
Its truly that simple.
When it comes to paperwork, I always like to remind readers that there are basically only three things you will do with paperwork: 1. File, 2. Act or 3. Toss. You can do this right now. Gather up all of the paperwork youve put in one pile, whether its on the kitchen counter, in a desk drawer (hidden away so company wont see it!) or in a box. Take it out, deal with it one piece at a time: File, Act or Toss.
- The File category is anything that doesnt need action or immediate attention. This would include all insurance policies, paid bills, greeting cards received that you want to keep, but dont need to display, receipts, etc.
- The Action category is anything that requires you to do something. For example, make a phone call, pay a bill, schedule an appointment, RSVP to a party, etc.
- The Toss pilejust put it right in the trash can or shred it if its sensitive information.
Interim Result: Youre left with an Action pile. Make your To Do List and accomplish what needs to be done.
Final Result: Relief and peace of mind!
So, Smead has done it again! They’re helping us get us ready for tax-time with the perfect organizing tools: The Income Tax Organizer and the Jan-Dec File Organizer, both of which are two tools that will ease the self-inflicted tax-time torture.
The Income Tax Organizer comes with pre-printed labels such as W-2s from Employer, Medical/Dental/Vision Expense, and many more (there are also blank labels if you choose to make custom categories). The durable tabs and six pockets make tax prep easy! Simple instructions and a checklist are printed on the inside front cover. The Tax Organizer also features secure pockets for safe transport.
The Jan-Dec File Organizer makes it easy to maintain paperwork. Use this file to hold receipts, by month, and other date-related papers. You can organize large amounts of paperwork that need to be transported quickly, or use this as a portable file container. Number of pockets varies depending on your choice of indexing method. The elastic cord on flap adds security.
So you may not have last years paperwork organized completely, but start this year off right: Go get your January receipts, buy the Smead products, and start filing. Guaranteed peace of mind!
Disclosure: Smead sent me the products free-of-charge to review. Also, I received a gift card for writing about the products. However, this in no way influenced my opinion of the products. They are useful, high-quality and Im using them for my personal use this year to keep my tax document organized.