Maybe you’ve been filing your tax information away neatly in color-coded file folders all year, or scanning and saving them where you can find them in a second.
All you need now is your Form W-2 and a few other forms that arrive in January, and you’re all set.
Most of us, unfortunately, aren’t quite that organized.
We started 2015 with good intentions, but life happened. If we spend a little time now organizing our tax information, preparing our returns later will be a snap.
Use these tips to easily organize your tax information:
Designate an easy-to-access place for January tax documents
If the place you want to keep documents isn’t easy to get to, it won’t get used consistently.
Even if you intend to scan documents, you need a place to store them temporarily.
Consider choosing something you can reach with one hand (like a shelf or folder), even while holding a stack of mail.
If you don’t let that Form W-2 or 1099 hit the kitchen counter, it will never get lost.
Group tax documents by category
Depending on the complexity of your tax return and how much room you can spare, you may want to use file folders, paper clips, boxes, or other methods to categorize documents.
Entering information in TaxAct will be much easier if you have information for your income, deductions, and credits separate.
If you have one or more businesses, you’ll need to keep information for each business separately.
Find last year’s return
Last year’s return is an important starting point for this year’s filing.
By looking at your return for last year, you can see what information you probably need now.
In addition, you may need to use some information from last year, such as depreciation or inventory information or credit carryovers on this year’s tax return.
Check odometers at year’s end
If you take a deduction for tax mileage, you’ll want to check the odometer on your vehicle on December 31. If that’s already passed, check now and make your best estimate.
Start worksheets and lists for 2015
Unless your tax return consists mostly of a Form W-2 or two, you probably need a worksheet and other records of how you arrived at the information you enter on your return.
First, start a checklist of questions and information you still need.
For example, you may need to get tax information from your child care provider, or the number of square feet in your home office.
You should also keep a worksheet that shows how you estimated amounts or allocated them between different categories.
Besides being necessary if the Internal Revenue Service ever questions your return, this information may be useful in future tax years.
Use the tax tools on TaxAct.com
We’ve put together a collection of tips and tools to make tax time easier.
Check them out at TaxAct.com.
Are you scanning more receipts and other tax information this year, or do you prefer paper documents?