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How to Prepare Your Taxes Early, So You Stress Less

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Get your taxes ready early, so you can easily face the tax man.

Get taxes ready early, indeed. If you reside in the US, tax returns are due on Tax Day, usually *April 15.

So why in early February am I writing a blog post of how to get taxes ready early? Because unless you’re a CPA or a numbers person that loves tax preparation, and it’s so easy to forget…ahem…avoidtaxes.

There’s nothing like getting your taxes ready early!

Tax Drudgery

Taxes are drudgery for many of us. Count me in on that. Even if you have an accounting system such as QuickBooksFreshBooks, Xero or Quicken, the supporting documentation often needs organizing. Financial record keeping, so essential, is something I often organize for clients because they don’t have time or interest in handling the task.

Taming The Tax Papers

I’m going to show you how, for years now, I get my personal and business tax papers ready early.

Lest you think I love getting my own paperwork ready for taxes, let me banish that thought. I assure you that is why I came up with this simple system that keeps all my documents ready for my accountant as well as organized for archiving and easy retrieval.

Disclaimer

I am not a CPA or bookkeeper. I am only offering a way to deal with end-of-year tax records. Please always check with your financial team or accountant as my suggestions are merely guidelines I have used myself.

End-of-Year Tax Filer System

I am a huge fan of going ‘paper-less’, scanning and shredding documents. That said, this post is geared for those of you who are more comfortable with paper, though my method can be translated into storing electronically in categorized folders.

Here’s the thing; most of my clients are paper heavy. They are used to paper, they find paper easier to deal with…when it’s organized. I use both paper and electronic, and though I want to go more paperless still, I admit I’m tactile and paper suits me best in some situations.

Tax Relief

Okay, I can’t promise that by getting your taxes ready early you’ll get a tax refund, but I can assure you, you’ll feel so much relief, and you won’t have to scramble to make the tax deadline.

Imagine your accountant’s pleasant surprise when you present him or her with your documents organized and ready. Even if you don’t supply backup documents for your accountant, you’ll have them ready to file away in the corresponding tax year should you ever get audited or need to look back at anything.

Jul’s’ End-of-Year Tax Document Filing System:

Step 1: Buy one to three 8-Pocket Folders from Staples.
I use two of these pocket folders each year to organize and archive my tax papers. (I don’t file my receipts here; that system is for another post.)

How to get your taxes ready early: Staples All-in-One 8-Pocket Folder
Photo: 8-Pocket Folder

Step 2: Label 8-Pocket Folder with Tax Year

How to get your taxes ready early: End-of-year-tax-Filer, 8-pocket folder with "Taxes Current Year" label
Photo: Tax Year Labeled On Filer

Step 3: Label Folders
Use a label maker or hand write categories on the individual folder pages to hold all your papers. I list a few categories per folder page.

Category examples:

  • Bills
  • Investments
  • Bank statements
  • Pay stubs, Income records
  • Tax summary, accountant questions
  • Other documents for taxes

Filer with Labeled Tax Categories
Tax Filer Labeled Categories

Tax Categories on Tax Filer Folders
Category Labels On Filer Folders

Step 4: Sort by Category and Date:

  • Documents kept for tax purposes and documentation
  • Staple or binder clip categories

After I sort a category, I check it against my accounting system and enter the year end total on a summary sheet for my accountant.

Step 5: Put each paper packet into the corresponding folder pocket

End-of-Year Tax Filer to get taxes ready early. Tax Documents Filed in 8-pocket folder
Photo: End-of-Year Tax Filer: Tax Documents Filed

Step 6: Store Tax Filers
Store tax filers, receipts and any other documents for the specific tax year. Some storage options are a plastic storage box, banker’s box or a file cabinet.

Portable Organized Tax Backup and Archive In One

What these All-In-One Pocket folders do, is they contain all your tax papers in one place for doing your taxes. Next, they become the storage system for archiving that tax year in a file box or hanging folder. I prefer to use a portable tax box for each saved tax year. I keep all receipts for that tax year and these two pocket folders in a portable tax box.

Get taxes ready early with portable, handled, narrow black plastic filing box with "Taxes 2014" label on top and front of box
Photos: Portable Labeled File Box

Get Taxes ready early showing open lid of portable narrow black plastic filing box showing organized tax papers
Tax Year Archived Contents

Once these folders are compiled, I take them along when I see my accountant. Don’t go to an accountant? Keep the folders for backup documentation.

As this portable box system takes up little room, I save 7 years of taxes (7 stacked portable boxes). Some people choose only to save 4 years of back taxes. Consult your tax professional.

Each new year, I empty and shred the contents in the oldest tax year box reusing that box for the current tax year. I replace the old tax year label with the current tax year label.

Wish you could get taxes ready early, but you just can’t face all those pesky papers or don’t have time to get them organized? That’s okay.

Contact me! I can help you get your taxes ready early! 

Please share this post! If you know people who can benefit from getting taxes ready early, share this post with them through social media or forward this post link.

I’m off to get my taxes ready early 🙂

Jul's

Hi, I’m Jul’s Arthur, author of the book 25 Days of Holiday Organizing! I help women professionals & entrepreneurs STOP endlessly spinning their wheels stuck in anxiety and overwhelm with the chaos and clutter in their home, instead START simplifying, so everything has a place, they gain FREEDOM, CLARITY and easily manifest into their DREAM LIFE. Let me help you go from chaos to FREEDOM.