Are you usually frazzled before the tax deadline or calm as a zen master knowing all your paperwork is in order? With our hectic lives, who has the time to keep up with the busy work of tax organization? While it may seem tedious and time-consuming, meticulous record keeping has it's benefits, especially for small business owners. By submitting an itemized return, you can reduce your taxable income and pay less taxes, thus keep more money in your pocket.
Here are a few simple ways stay organized and "file ready" before the deadline:
1. Designate a space in your home just for tax organization. Whether this be a home office, kitchen table, a corner in your dining room, whatever, make sure your tax record keeping and organization area has a home. Here you could put everything in a box or Sunday basket if you're too busy, with the intention that you will review your paperwork on a regular basis.
2. Organize receipts and/or invoices by appropriate category. For this, you could use plain envelopes or file folders with the category label written on them. To make the task more inspiring, use pretty folders or file boxes. You could put attractive folders on an acrylic stand for visual eye candy.
3. Use the scanner or iPhone to simplify. Want easier access to receipts from your computer or laptop? You could either scan or use your mobile phone camera to snap pictures of your receipts and save to your computer. Some apps make it easy to store your scanned items like Shoeboxed.com. For even easier access, use the Evernote app where you could tag items and use the search and find feature.
4. Log business activities in a calendar or Outlook for extra documentation. In the event of an audit, you want to make sure you leave an organized paper trail. Save necessary emails in a folder or onto Evernote. Also, log activities to an Outlook or Google Calendar and have a printout ready to go.
5. Use software to record expenses. You could keep it simple by making an Excel spreadsheet, or invest in software like Mint or Quicken which may sync to TurboTax.
6. Make tax organization a habit, like brushing your teeth or going to the gym. Better yet, schedule organization time on your calendar. If too busy to deal with organization, outsource the task to a book keeper or accountant to do the work for you on a regular basis.
7. Change your mindset. While these steps may seem like a hassle, think about the benefits of getting your stuff together and not freaking out over missed deadlines. Visualize that tax refund you're entitled to after all your hard work.
With these tips, tax organization should be simpler.
What's helped you stay organized during tax season? Share your thoughts on Twitter @LoriRochino.