Thursday, March 17, 2016

3 Keys Thursday: Tax Time

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
I spent hours on Saturday organizing my notes and receipts for taxes. While my Type A organizer friends are already getting their refund checks, I'm still dragging my feet, finding plenty of other things that are more exciting than getting my tax paperwork together.

In some ways, though, it wasn't really that bad. Having learned my lesson after the disaster that was tax planning 2013, I came up with a system that I (mostly) use which minimized the amount of time I had to spend tracking things down. I only ran into trouble when -- you guessed it -- my system was incomplete or I'd put off doing something that could now no longer be avoided.

How did your tax system work this year? If it needs a few tweaks, consider these three tips.

  • Be true to your styles. You knew I was going to say that, didn't you? Whether it's file folders, an accordion folder, an app or shoe boxes labeled by category, pick something easy to use. Otherwise, the system will break down long before you need to sit down and pull everything together. 
  • Categorize. Again, whether it's file folders, an accordion folder or shoe boxes labeled by category, keeping things separated by category all year long makes it much easier to summarize   things in an organized, manageable fashion. Even if you cram and jam everything into shoe boxes, using separate shoe boxes makes the eventual sorting process much easier.
  • Print it out. PayPal's monthly statements made my record-keeping so much easier. The one change I will make for next year is printing them out sooner -- monthly or quarterly -- so they're already in my files when I need them. Printing as you go also saves you from unexpected problems -- like the receipt that I could no longer produce because an email issue earlier this year resulted in the loss of a block of emails that included that receipt.
Cohdra via Morguefile
I'm happy to report that the system I developed in response to the marathon tax paperwork session of 2013 is working well, and that Saturday's session wasn't nearly as painful as I expected it to be. With a few tweaks, 2016 will be even better. 

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