Tax Time Tips

tax time

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

Step 1 – Prepare

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 shoebox, 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.

Step 2 – Record

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.

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Step 3 – File

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 shoebox, 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 will be a breeze! What about next year? Don’t wait until next year’s tax time rolls around to start thinking about your 2009 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.

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.

13 Comments

  1. Sabrina Quairoli on March 28, 2022 at 11:22 am

    I agree: keep everything together. I love talking to clients about this topic. Accordion folders are great to hold these items organized and safe for when the person needs them. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 28, 2022 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks Sabrina. Keeping all your tax papers together is key.

  2. Janet Barclay on March 28, 2022 at 11:25 am

    I got my paperwork ready for the accountant yesterday. Thanks to my efficient bookkeeper/husband, it took next to no time at all!

    • Janet Schiesl on March 28, 2022 at 1:20 pm

      I got my paperwork together recently and am waiting for my husband to get motivated to do the work!

  3. Jill Katz on March 28, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Great tips, Janet. Having a system is key. My husband takes the lead with our personal taxes. I look over his results and add on my charity receipts or relevant info that he might have missed. Getting a business account for the first time this year is an exciting step for me!

    • Janet Schiesl on March 29, 2022 at 7:17 am

      Congratulations Jill! Having a business certainly makes taxes more complicated, but still doable. We made a cheap sheet that we follow each year, so we don’t have to member what goes where.

      • Jill Katz on March 30, 2022 at 8:54 am

        A cheat sheet is a great idea – thanks!

  4. Seana Turner on March 28, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Our accountant sends us a checklist, which I find very helpful. The whole process seems very overwhelming and complicated. I keep wishing we could come up with something more simple.

    In the meantime, we carry on, right? Being prepared and having a system helps with all tasks that are complex.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 29, 2022 at 7:18 am

      It’s certainly not my favorite thing to do, but it’s doable. Lucky it’s only once a year.

  5. Julie Bestry on March 31, 2022 at 3:23 am

    You’re sure right about a checklist, though for me, I guess my prior year’s taxes become my checklist. I do my own taxes. They were easy all the years I was an employee, but the past twenty years of owning my own business definitely complicated the matter. And now I prepare my mom’s taxes, as well. As with everything else, organizing is the key to 90% of our success in preparing and filing (if not paying) our taxes. For me, I organize everything throughout the year, and then work bit by bit every few weeks throughout first quarter, but never actually set out to finalize them until April. That’s this coming week’s project!

    • Janet Schiesl on March 31, 2022 at 9:04 am

      This task is on my list for next week too!

  6. Hazel Thornton on March 31, 2022 at 9:32 am

    I appears I am not alone in not having done my taxes yet. (I did my own until I started my business. Then I started doing my own again when one year my guy forgot to actually do the filing part. Which I only found out when I tried to refinance my home. Luckily he’d given me my copy.) No, they’re not late, but whyyy do I always leave it until April? Even when I intended to do it in February? Well, I guess this year I was busy with health issues in Feb, but there’s no real reason I couldn’t have done it in March.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 31, 2022 at 10:46 am

      I hope you are better Hazel.
      My sister had a bad tax preparer experience too. Not very professional!
      I’m waiting because I know that I owe. I usually get them done early and it makes me nervous to wait until the last minute.

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