Organizing for Tax Time

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Preparing for tax time can be stressful  – but there’s hope!

Decide if you will be preparing your taxes, or whether you will be having them prepared professionally. Make a list of the documents you will need, including W2s, bank statements, etc. With a checklist, you’ll know if any important information is missing when it’s time to begin your tax preparation.

Plan in advance. If your past system has been to toss all your tax related receipts and statements into a shoe box, it is now time to gather and sort your documentation. This will save you lots of time and stress when you or a professional are actually preparing your taxes.

Record your expenses. If you don’t have an organized way of keeping track of your deductible expenses, you may be missing out on big savings come tax time. Create a list of your expense categories using a simple list, a ledger, or a computer-based system. That way, if you ever were to get audited, all your information will be safely stored in one place.

Keep everything together. Scattered receipts and expense papers, such as medical expense documentation, can lead to lost deductions – and lost money. Instead of losing track of your receipts or keeping them in a shoe box, purchase an inexpensive accordion folder. Label the folder’s slots with your expense categories, and as you get a receipt, drop it into the corresponding slot. Totaling your expenses for each category at tax time will be a breeze!What about next year? Don’t wait until next year’s tax time rolls around to start thinking about your 2019 taxes. Start using your new, more organized strategy for keeping track of your receipts and expenses now! Staying on top of receipts and expenses throughout the year can eliminate tax-prep related stress.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on April 8, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I’m happy to be able to say that I signed my tax form as soon as I got back from conference. Such a complicated process! So many of us need help in this area. [On a separate note, how FUN was it to see each other at conference? I’m missing the glow of fellowship this morning…]

    • Janet Schiesl on April 8, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Seana. Yes, it was great to see everyone, but I never have enough time! Glad I at least made it into one photo. Happy to hear your taxes are done too. That task is something I leave to the professionals!

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on April 8, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Over the years, I have used the accordion folder for tax returns and a separate one for my business papers. It really helps when I need to go back years later. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 8, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      That is a good idea Sabrina. I think you are right, that it helps keep things straight and easier to find if needed.

  3. Janet Barclay on April 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

    For the most part, my paper files are a scary mess of old documents that I haven’t looked at since I put them there, but I’m happy to say that my tax stuff is in good shape.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 8, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      My thoughts on the old documents is not to worry about them, if you don’t think it’s worth the time to organize them. The older they are the less likely you’ll ever need them. But I’m glad you have the tax stuff in good shape. No one needs the extra stress of disorganized paperwork if or when you get audited.

  4. Nancy Haworth on April 8, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Great video and tips! I like the accordion tax file suggestion. You are right that keeping track of receipts and expenses throughout the year makes tax time less stressful.

  5. Linda Samuels on April 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Taxes are done and filed. Woohoo! My process was greatly simplified once I started using Quicken. I’m able to code every entry (i.e. “supplies,” “telephone,” “conference”) so that at the end of the year, I can pull a category summary report of income and expenses which I use to create a custom summary for the accountant. The physical back-up papers (receipts and paid bills) get stored chronologically by year in folders (one for personal, one for business, and one specifically for tax-related documents.) There is now very little sorting of paper because my Quicken summary gives me most of the information that I need. It’s a huge time saver and makes the tax prep process painless.

    It was wonderful seeing you at the NAPO conference. I’m so glad we had a chance to chat and snap a photo together with our fellow organizing bloggers.

  6. Janet Schiesl on April 9, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Great seeing you too Linda. I don’t enjoy tax time, but like you said, a system used throughout the year will make it easier. We finished our taxes on Valentine’s day. I told my DH that was what I wanted as a gift. I hate it hanging over my head.

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